End of Simce: hope for the reconstruction of the national school evaluation system

The Education Quality Measurement System (Simce) has been harshly prosecuted in recent years, calling into question its ability to ensure school quality. The suspension of the test in the years 2019, 2020 and 2021, together with the recent statements by the Minister of Education to suspend the 2022 test and send a bill to end this test, have revived the debate.

The focus of the criticism is that the Simce has resulted in a reduction of the curriculum, technifying the teaching task and placing it within the framework of a accountability constant. Seen in this way, the Simce does not act only as a measurement test, but also becomes a powerful device that promotes certain curricular practices, performing a narrow and reductionist type of teaching task, at odds with the expected reflective professional paradigm.

The current scenario of renewal of the foundations that organize our society, expressed in the constitutional change underway, allows us to raise again a crucial question that the Simce has obstructed for almost 35 years: how to move towards a comprehensive and complex health insurance system? The quality of education? That is the challenge of the present and resisting it is an act of claudication of political thought and educational creation.

We propose two considerations in the face of this scenario of opportunity:

On the one hand, performance cannot continue to be the main focus of the quality assurance system. Although it is true that the current Simce instruments are more complex and have progressed in the measurement of abilities, they maintain an emphasis on the instrumental performance of the students. From a curricular perspective, it is necessary to assess the comprehensiveness of learning, assuming that “knowing how to do” and “knowing how to be” are fundamental in the development of children and young people.

Secondly, it is necessary to rethink the system involving the diversity of educational actors that make up the system. A design that follows a logic from top to bottom and from the outside in, in which the central level defines instances of measurement of high consequences for school communities, is not sustainable. Today it is necessary to articulate wills and actions that enable a dialogue between the macro, meso and micro levels, opening spaces for local governments, foundations and schools to make evaluative decisions autonomously.

In this sense, we propose that the State, in a logic similar to that of international measurements such as Pisa or TIMSS, apply a sample test, every three or four years, to monitor the learning achieved in the country. The intermediate level, in addition, can delve into the evaluation of comprehensive learning, developing contextualized procedures and instruments that respond both to the characteristics of the territories and to the identity hallmarks of each institution. Finally, the classroom level, as the post-pandemic return to classes clearly demonstrates, needs a deep space for deliberation to make curricular decisions that address the changing school scenarios.

In short, it is important to move decisively towards the legitimation of professional teaching judgment as a criterion for evaluating learning, thinking of a new quality assurance system that manages to address the comprehensiveness of training and articulates in a balanced way the various social actors that make up the school system.

As academics linked to Curriculum Development and the Teaching Profession, we believe that it is a reason for hope that the current debate allows us to think of a new look to ensure the quality of school education. We encourage our colleagues to see in the end of Simce, as we know it today, an opportunity to design an evaluation policy in accordance with the complexity of the current school.

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End of Simce: hope for the reconstruction of the national school evaluation system