Juhani Anttila
Venture Knowledgist Quality Integration
Helsinki, Finland




Quality is an essential issue in all education and learning. This quality does not take place accidentally but needs a professional approach and a close collaboration between the education and quality disciplines.

Evaluations are the key activities for the professional quality management, improvement and assurance. Today in the field of education evaluation practices are very fragmented and inconsistent. Many organizations have confusingly developed different models for evaluating educational systems and learning results, which are used at different educational levels nationally and internationally.

The existing situation is a consequence of the difficulties of understanding profoundly the educating/learning phenomena and the lack of awareness of the professional quality concepts and principles in education.

Evaluation of the educational activities and systems is fundamentally different from the evaluation of the learning results, including inter alia, students’ learning and teachers’ performance.  Evaluation methodology should be derived from the profound knowledge of the ontological and epistemological basis of education and learning, quality and metrology. In particular, one should clearly understand the concepts of facts, data, information, and knowledge, and recognize their roles and relationships.

Evaluations should not be isolated issues. One should make clear, why evaluations are needed, what is their purpose, and what should be done with the results in order to get the benefits for the learners, teachers, educational organizations and their stakeholders, and the society at large. Critical comments have been presented on the standardized evaluations and tests and rewarding people on the basis of the evaluation results.

Strategic performance evaluations include self-assessment of the whole educational organizations for decisions and enhancing organizational performance. Major approaches are based on (a) excellence models that focus on organizational learning, process refining and integration and (b) maturity models that focus on fulfilling prescribed performance criteria. Operational evaluation of the individual educating and learning processes relate to performance monitoring, auditing, control and diagnostics, performance improvement, and quality assurance. Such practices are not widely established in the field of education although they are very established practices in other sectors of our societies.

[This full text was prepared together with Kari Jussila, and will be presented at the World Quality Forum in Budapest, Hungary in 2015.]