Conseil supérieur de l'éducation
Institutional Evaluation in Education: a Factor Conducive to DEVELOPMENT

The Conseil supérieur de l’éducation urges the entire education community, at all levels of instruction, to recognize the need for institutional evaluation and its potential for supporting development. The Conseil decided to devote its 1998-1999 annual report to this issue, fully aware that the mere mention of the word "evaluation" often elicits distrust and resistance in the current context of reforms and cutbacks.

The 135-page report, which was tabled in the National Assembly and released in December 1999, highlights those aspects of institutional evaluation that play an essential and positive role in building and maintaining a quality education system that meets the requirements of advanced societies.


What is institutional evaluation?

The Conseil supérieur de l’éducation defines institutional evaluation as follows: an ongoing, concerted effort by the players concerned, who formally agree to analyze and assess in whole or in part the accomplishment of the educational mission of their institution or sector of activity so as to adapt continuously to a constantly changing environment, to provide a basis for decision making and to ensure accountability to society.

This process should be integrated into the administrative and educational functions of the institution. It draws on qualitative and quantitative information considered relevant to an assessment of the attainment of objectives that have been agreed to collectively, in connection with the institutional project and plan of action. Essentially, it is a process of self-evaluation, intended to give the players concerned the power to take the necessary measures to accomplish the institution's educational mission. Institutional evaluation must, therefore, provide the means needed not only to decide and act, but also to correct problem situations as soon as possible and to direct action to achieve the desired results.

By promoting institutional evaluation, the Conseil is pursuing the fundamental goal of giving more responsibility to those working in the school (administrators, teachers, students, non-teaching professionals, and support staff).


Indicators and rankings

The Conseil supérieur de l’éducation deems it important that the indicators reflect the social, cultural and economic environment of student populations and educational institutions. The Conseil questions the use of quantitative academic results alone in rankings of all sorts. It notes the superficial nature of such classifications and their often discouraging impact in milieux, where tremendous efforts have been invested in educational success and the quality of teaching practices.


Avenues for action

Using numerous examples to show that evaluation is already being carried out in Québec’s education system, the Conseil, nevertheless, stresses that these activities should be part of an integrated, concerted approach covering all administrative and pedagogical practices in an institution.

At the elementary-secondary level, the Conseil considers it important for the governing boards to define an educational project that would link the province-wide education objectives to local needs and circumstances and that would lend itself to a process of evaluation and accountability. At the college level, it encourages institutions to move from program evaluation conducted by outside organizations to self-evaluation based on the collective involvement of the players and partners concerned. The university community is encouraged to develop a more comprehensive approach to evaluation that makes it possible to determine the extent to which each institution, with its various units, is fulfilling the requirements of its mission and meeting society’s needs in general education, professional qualifications and research.

At all levels of instruction, the Conseil stresses how crucial it is that administrators create an environment conducive to joint efforts by the various groups and individuals involved, notably the teaching staff, in order to develop a culture of evaluation based on continuous improvement.

Finally, the Conseil asks the Ministère de l’Éducation to set an example by taking a critical look at its own management approaches and methods, trusting those in the field and providing institutions with the resources they need to make institutional evaluation a significant development tool.

Panorama • Volume 5, Number 1 • February 2000

Document complet - in French (PDF)


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