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What is ÉpStan?

“Épreuves Standardisées” (ÉpStan) are a school monitoring tool in Luxembourg and consist of written, in some cases computer-based tests and questionnaires that create a standardised record of competences in key school areas and of central features of teaching quality, the school and class climate, and motivation to learn. More precisely, every year at the beginning of each new learning cycle of mandatory schooling, i.e. in grade levels 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9, the ÉpStan examine whether the educational goals from the previous learning cycle have been achieved by all students in the respective grade levels. To ensure a fair performance comparison, the ÉpStan systematically take students’ socioeconomic and sociocultural backgrounds into account – in other words, characteristics that have been proven to have a major impact on educational success. Based on this data, the ÉpStan supply meaningful information that plays a major part in empirical education monitoring and research, and is used to objectively assess the performance, fairness and long-term development of the Luxembourg school system.

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Why do we do the ÉpStan?

PISA surveys have prompted a change in thinking in Luxembourg towards systematic quality development and assurance in the school system. National educational standards were formulated, and following their enshrinement into law in 2009, paved the way for results-oriented monitoring of the school system focusing on achieving these standards. The aim of ensuring a quality culture via systematic review of the set educational goals was translated into practice in Luxembourg as the “Épreuves Standardisées” (ÉpStan), a national school monitoring programme. With the inception of the Luxembourg Centre for Educational Testing(LUCET) in 2014, the ÉpStan were integrated into the University of Luxembourg as a structural assignment by the government.

One particular feature of the national monitoring system is the fact that ÉpStan results feedback occurs not only on a system level, but across all levels (school, class, student), and can therefore also be used for processes such as school development, to boost teachers’ diagnostic competence, and to individually determine learning and educational needs.

Data protection

In accordance with the European General Data Protection Regulation, collected data is protected via pseudonymisation. All students receive a one-off number or letter code for each test that does not in any way reveal their identity. Only this code will be used by the university to evaluate test and survey data. To enable student development to be evaluated over the course of multiple years as well, without jeopardising the students’ anonymity in the process, every student also receives a unique identification number that does not change. The “key” that enables identification numbers to be allocated to students is securely stored by the company itrust consulting s.à r.l. as a trusted third party (TTP). This ensures that neither LUCET is able to discover students’ identities, nor can the Ministry of Education access the test results of individual students. In order for class and subject teachers to be able to allocate results to the students in their classes, they receive a list before the ÉpStan administration enabling them to link the respective number or letter code to their students. Neither LUCET nor the Ministry of Education have access to this list, as it can only be viewed by the school/cycle coordinator delegated by itrust.