What do we learn from the results of central tests? And what not?

This academic year, all students in the fourth year of primary education and the second year of secondary education participated in the central exams (also known as the “Flemish exams”) for the first time. Centralized tests determine how well students have mastered achievement goals for reading comprehension and mathematics. The tests aim to support schools in achieving strong learning for all students.

What do we already know?

Across all schools, results show that 94% (for reading comprehension) and 97%-100% (for various mathematics components) of students at the beginning of secondary education meet the final basic literacy goals for reading comprehension or mathematics. In track B this percentage is 74% for reading comprehension and 75%-100% for mathematics. This means that the vast majority of these students have enough functional and numeracy knowledge to actively work on our 21HCentury community to share. However, a quarter of students in Track B still had difficulty with functional reading comprehension.

The percentages are lower for regular end goals. 67% (in reading comprehension) and 13%-87% (in various mathematics components) of students in the first stage of secondary education achieve the final goals for reading comprehension and mathematics. One in three students achieves a strong level of reading comprehension. In Pathway B, 55% achieve the final goals in reading comprehension and 21%-91% in mathematics. For mathematics, we see differences between the components of the test. For example, interpreting tables and graphs is much better than solving mathematical problems, as students have to apply an appropriate mathematical strategy to a situation.

The results for the fourth year of primary education will be particularly meaningful in 2026, when the same students will be in their sixth year. We can then check whether they are achieving the end goals and to what extent they have made gains or progress in learning. You will find all the results of the central tests here.

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What don’t we know yet?

Researchers at the Center for the Central Evaluation of Education are busy studying differences between students and schools. Which groups of students achieve which results? What school practices are associated with the ability to understand all types of texts and solve mathematical problems easily? What do schools do with the most vulnerable students who perform better than expected? These studies are still ongoing. Formulating statements and advice now would be premature. We see that the test results are in line with other tests from the Flemish and international territories: they also show that there is room for growth in the area of ​​reading comprehension and mathematics.

How can we support schools in school development?

At the end of September, all schools will receive two items that provide tangible support: (1) a feedback dashboard and (2) an e-course. Dashboard showing school results. For example, school leaders see the percentage of their students who are or are not meeting ultimate goals, but also what skill level they are at. Such a skill level is not a number out of 10, but rather a level (from A to E) that includes a description that reflects what students have mastered at a particular level.

Schools also average their results compared to schools with a similar number of students. We know from research that school leaders find it important that their school is not only compared with Flanders, but also with similar schools, and schools that are in a similar context to themselves. It is these results that can provide tools for school development. The e-course then discusses interpreting the results and how schools can get started. Of course, schools do not do this alone, but in cooperation with supportive partners such as educational guidance services. Therefore, test results constitute a first step in supporting schools through internal quality assurance.

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doctor. Caroline Frijns and Dr. Lisa De Scheibmeister are its coordinators Central Testing Support Center in Education And researchers at the Department of Educational Sciences at Ghent University. Prof. Dr. Johan van Braak is the supervising coordinator of the Support Center and Professor of Educational Sciences at the same university.

Megan Vasquez

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