the e-Assessment Association

The European education landscape in a nutshell: Structure, technology and attainment

The European education landscape in a nutshell: Structure, technology and attainment

Tim Downie, Business Development Director, RM Results

Earlier in the year, we commissioned our research partner, DJS Research, to produce a brand new report focusing on the education landscape across Europe. ‘European Education Landscape: Structure, Technology and Attainment’ looks at the underlying systems and infrastructures each country is using to support their technology initiatives, and how different countries are embracing change in the education sector. Here are our key findings:


Centralisation of education policy tends to be the norm in Europe. As such, education is treated in the same way and dealt with at the same level as other domestic policy. Those countries where policy is decentralised tend to be those which have a federal or regional state structure such as Germany, Belgium, or Spain.

Language Testing

The report revealed wide-spread agreement in Europe about the value of foreign language testing, yet spoken language was the element that is least tested. English is compulsory in many countries, and was by far the most widely tested language, reflecting an element of supra-national centralisation.

E-marking and E-assessment

Low-stakes, school based assessments are still largely carried out with pen and paper and marked in the same way onsite. On the other hand, high stakes exams are generally marked externally to remove any possibility of bias and to preserve the integrity of the system. E-marking reduces the need to bring markers to a central location and reduces the costs associated with transporting both markers and exam papers, which is a big driver for assessment bodies. This can go some way to explaining the upwards trend in e-marking adoption across Europe which can relieve the logistical pressure and can support quality models in high stakes exam marking.

E-marking is now the main type of marking for general qualifications in the UK, but exams are still written using pen and paper. Some countries in Europe are further ahead, with Norway and Denmark having widespread use of e-assessment and many other countries (Slovakia, Finland and Macedonia) in the process of rolling out or piloting some form of e-assessment.

Technology and Attainment

Whilst the report revealed that education and assessment is increasingly utilising technology, the extent of use is dependent on IT infrastructure. One of the key tools that the EU uses to measure how technology is impacting education, assessment and attainment is the Digital Agenda Scoreboard (DAS), which provides a score for each country based on the progress being made regarding the digital economy including internet penetration. The results from analysis as part of the DAS scoring suggests that there is a relationship between access to the internet at home and improved performance in terms of educational attainment according to PISA scores.

The report shows a move towards togetherness in terms of European assessment practice, and demonstrates a feeling of huge impending change when it comes to technology use in high stakes assessment. We’ll continue to watch how this market develops over the coming months. To request a complimentary copy of the report, please follow the link here.