Research on school segregation provides relevant information for evaluating equity of education systems. However, many European countries have not yet developed their own information systems to provide accurate and detailed data on socio-spatial inequalities. Experts and policymakers have still to relay on data at the national level, such as the PISA tests. Despite its richness, this data has limitations for a systematic and periodic analysis of school segregation. In particular, an in-depth analysis of school segregation would require universal data or at least stratified and meaningful samples of territories and schools. The PISA sample is a sample of pupils, which inevitably limits the depth of the analysis at territorial and school level and, moreover, covers only pupils in compulsory secondary education. This imposes serious limitations to knowledge on school segregation in countries that don’t have their own information systems on education equity.
The limits of information systems make it difficult, when not impossible, developing ambitious and effective policies to reduce school segregation. In addition, regional and local administrations are often unaware about the policies being developed elsewhere in their own countries and which could become a reference of action. In this sense, many governments lack the capacity to identify and disseminate strategies to tackle school segregation and to carry out impact evaluations regarding their effectiveness.
Objective 5: Create information systems on school segregation and education inclusion at national, regional and local scales.
In the last decades there has been a clear progress made in the collection and publication of data on the education system in a systematic and harmonised way at national and European levels. However, the availability of comparable, traceable and updated primary data on education equity and school segregation is still underdeveloped in many European countries, especially at a regional and local scale. The design of public policy should, as far as possible, rely on contextually-based evidence European Guidelines to tackle school segregation 14 to ensure policies feasibility and effectiveness, and for this better information systems are needed.
- Measure 5.1: Include the question of school segregation into existing or new national, regional and local observatories. A monitoring system of school segregation can be set for each governance level to inform about the evolution of school segregation in each territory.
- Measure 5.2: Create and information system on school segregation and educational inclusion at national, regional and local levels, with relevant indicators for each territorial level.
- These indicators are to be constructed based on the aggregation and/or combination of data collected by the system of information. They should not become public if data may harm the situation of most disadvantaged schools and worsen school segregation.
- What information should be collected and who should be responsible for it is a necessary condition to set a good information system. Without prejudice to other data, for a correct assessment it is essential to collect information on the characteristics of the pupils and their families, and on schools’ characteristics.
- The indicators should cover at least the following dimensions: Access to school (social composition of schools and accessing conditions), Characteristics of the educational supply, School segregation (indexes), Mobility (distance between home and school), Performance (individual and school)
Objective 6: Guarantee the monitoring and evaluation of those policies designed to tackle school segregation.
Any public programme developed to tackle school segregation and to improve the inclusiveness of the education systems must be accountable. Only by developing quality evaluations it is possible to know their effectiveness in relation to the stated objectives. Empirical evidence on school segregation in each context should be provided before the implementation of political initiatives to revert or to prevent it. Existing evidence helps to assess the appropriateness of such initiatives, balancing both the changes they promote and their costs. In addition, in course evaluation may help to monitor new policies during their implementation.
Likewise, it is also recommended to promote a database that systematically collects specific information on the policies developed by the various educational levels of governance and that makes possible to establish what works, for whom it works, for whom it does not work, and how it works.
- Measure 6.1: Ensuring that the measures developed to tackle school segregation and to promote inclusive education are designed in such a way that they can be monitored and evaluated. This implies:
- Setting clear and measurable short-, mid-, and long-term objectives, including key performance indicators for each objective.
- Elaborating an initial diagnose of the territorial context to improve policy designs and to set the basis for the impact evaluation.
- Defining feasible and ambitious benchmarks for a 10-year period.
- Measure 6.2: Establishing mechanisms for the dissemination of policies to tackle school segregation that are being developed at national, regional, and local level, their implementation conditions and their impact. The dissemination could take the form of a catalogue of policies at different administration levels and include both good practices and unsuccessful initiatives that can prevent mistakes in other contexts. At least two dimensions should be included in the catalogue:
- The descriptive dimension should at least provide information about 1) the characteristics of the policy, 2) its objectives, 3) its level of implementation (national, regional, local), 4) its dimension of intervention (planning of the supply, admission process, schooling management, information or compensatory), 5) budget, 6) its leadership and 7) the actors involved in its implementation.
- The assessment dimension should at least provide information about 1) the expected results of the policy, 2) the mechanisms set to monitor it, and 3) the obtained results.