“InfoEscolas” – a web portal containing statistics on student demographics and school achievement (https://infoescolas.medu.pt/) – has recently launched new data.
Today, the newly released data were presented at an event titled “The role of data in understanding the reality of the Portuguese Educational System – InfoEscolas 2022”, organized by DGEEC (the General Administration of Statistics on Education and Science), in Lisbon.
Luís Catela Nunes, Scientific Director from the Nova SBE Economics of Education Knowledge Center, was part of a panel of experts who discussed the importance of having access to these indicators.
The researcher thanked DGEEC for continuously allowing the scientific community to have access to these data, without which research on Economics of Education would not be possible, stating that this openness and transparency allows for education policies to answer increasingly better to the real needs of students, teachers, schools, and society. Considering that the available data in InfoEscolas is destined to be read by the general public, Luís Catela Nunes highlighted that they also serve to promote a bidirectional transparency and accountability between students, teachers, directors, parents, the Ministry and society.
The information available in this web portal on students’ sociodemographic backgrounds, educational paths and test results is available in comparative terms, which allows us to understand how each school ranks in the average of schools with similar socioeconomic traits. Though recognizing the importance of this comparative approach, the researcher pointed out that it would also be relevant to have tools that measure the absolute value of students’ school performance. As an example, he mentioned the current post-pandemic context and how important it is to understand how students’ learning has truly been impacted by the closing of schools.
In countries where indicators were collected to make this assessment – contrary to Portugal, where exams were suspended during the pandemic – it was concluded that there was significant learning loss in places where schools took longer to reopen and that in countries like Sweden, where schools practically didn’t close, learning wasn’t affected. In Portugal we still don’t have much of these types of indicators, and those we do have are collected through international assessment programs, such as PISA. For this reason, the researcher congratulated the Education Ministry and DGEEC on the effort to make sure Portugal participated in almost all relevant international assessments.
The InfoEscolas web portal contains an indicator on equity, which is well defined and useful in comparative terms. Luís Catela Nunes highlighted that, parallel to focusing on the differences between schools and students’, there should also be a focus on the improvement of the performance and learning recovery of schools and students as a whole – which can be evaluated through absolute data.
At last, he commented on the importance of internal grades as a complement to final exams for a global assessment of students, mentioning that, for the weight that they bear on the access to higher education, it would make sense to implement an auditing mechanism on teacher grading, to minimize as much as possible the grade inflation that exists in some schools.
Isabel Flores (ISCTE), Emília Vicente (Escola Secundária Padre António Martins de Oliveira) and Luís Capela (IGEC) also participated in the panel of experts, with moderation by Luís Santos (IAVE).
In this session the following reports were also presented: “Final tests and national exams | main indicators – 2022”; “School results: Success and equity – 2018 to 2021” – both by Nuno Neto Rodrigues (DGEEC); and “An analysis of the internal grades from scientific-humanistic courses” – 2021 to 2022”, by Patrícia Pereira (DGEEC). The session was introduced by Filomena Oliveira (DGEEC) and closed by the current Ministry of Education, João Costa.
Click here to watch the recording of the event.