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Thematic report: Results of the systemic evaluation of education in Luxembourg

Below is the digital summary of the report, “Results of the systemic evaluation of education in Luxembourg”. Download the full report here. (In French)

In the field of education, Luxembourg has for 20 years regularly participated in systemic evaluation studies conducted at a national and international level in order to be able to base its policy decisions on solid empirical data. This review includes an overview of the types of data and reports available on Luxembourg and their main overarching findings (Chapter 2).

The publication of the results of the first PISA studies, conducted in the early 2000s, came as a shock, as the country and stakeholders were confronted with a rather low ranking regarding the performance of Luxembourg’s school system compared to other participating countries. The main findings were consistently confirmed in other studies as well (e.g. ICCS in 2009, ICILS in 2018).

Poor widespread performances were reported in all areas assessed. Students’ characteristics (socio-economic, migratory and language background) have a significant influence on their performance in the Luxembourg school system. Equity in education is considered low and poses a real challenge.

These findings on the importance of student characteristics for success were not entirely new, as they had already been documented, in broad terms, in the 1968 Magrip study. Surprisingly, on the one hand, these results have hardly changed over the various assessment cycles and, on the other hand, the determining factors leading to these results have become stronger over time. For example, since their introduction in 2009, the standardized tests (“ÉpStan – Épreuves standardisées”), which are a continuous assessment programme adapted to the Luxembourgish school system, have confirmed the inherent challenges. The main results of the systemic assessments carried out over the last 20 years have made it possible to identify eight priority themes on which the ONQS wishes to focus its activities in the coming years (Chapter 3).

The results of the “ÉpStan” are available to anyone interested on the website
As an example, the results of the standardised tests show that in 2019, 39% of 5th-graders did not reach level 2 in German reading comprehension and 74% did not reach this level in French reading comprehension. In mathematics, 56% of students in grade 5 did not reach level 2 (see Figure 3). This overrepresentation of students at lower levels of performance is already visible at the basic level. Again, as another example, between 42% and 44% of the students in cycle 4.1 have not reached the basic level targeted in the three skills measured in the 2019 standardised tests (reading literacy in French, reading literacy in German and mathematics) as shown in Figure 2.

To put the situation in an international perspective, the approaches of several countries are presented to identify common observations and lessons to be learnt. However, the limitations of such a comparison are also discussed, as the specific sociocultural and sociopolitical context of a country largely determines the choice and development of the national educational model (Chapter 4).

The use of systemic evaluations and their impact on the formulation of education policy are analysed over the last 20 years. The role of school monitoring presents two important differences over the period studied. In the first decade studied, systemic evaluations served as triggers to motivate proactive reform policies. In the second decade studied, for a variety of reasons, the strategy shifted towards lines of development that guided and structured more targeted but smaller-scale reform measures (Chapter 5).

The ONQS concludes this report with three recommendations, based on the results of the systemic assessments in which Luxembourg participated, and addressed to political actors on the basis of Article 4 of the Law of 13 March 2018 (Chapter 6).

Recommendation 1:

The ONQS promotes greater coherence of political governance at two levels. First, the formulation of understandable and measurable objectives for the education system (Bildungsziele), and second, the establishment of a transparent process for decision-making in education.

Recommendation 2:

The ONQS recommends establishing a long-term strategy for systemic evaluation to be able to measure the impact of policies or reforms implemented at a national or local level.

Recommendation 3:

The ONQS recommends clarifying the principles of managing and using available data, whether from national and international systemic evaluations or administrative and organisational functioning – and this for both formal and non-formal education – to optimise the use of data, improve the quality of analyses and expand the scope of studies aimed at improving school quality.


In conclusion, this report stresses the continued observation of the inertia and limited capacity of Luxembourg’s education system to provide adequate and sustainable responses to fundamental problems, namely the impact of the socioeconomic context of the family environment on students’ chances of success, which are exacerbated by a model with very pronounced horizontal and vertical segregation and a model of language learning and use that is unsuitable for students who have not mastered the country’s vernacular languages from an early age.

The ONQS proposes to implement a concerted strategy to develop a national curriculum that will better address the following elements: the constraints of multilingualism at different levels of the education system, better coordination between formal and non-formal education to improve equity at the beginning of schooling, evaluation of the allocation of resources dedicated to the guidance and support of students who do not have the same opportunities when starting school.

Download the full report here. (In French)


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