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Reflections on the role of the department for assessment and forecast (DEP) in France

by Florent Bick last modified 2010-11-03 10:52


Former deputy-director of DEP and former general secretary of the high council for assessment in education (HCEE)

Reflections on the role of the department for assessment and forecast (DEP) in France

My contribution will be based on my reflections as an “official assessment agent” at national level according to Xavier Pons’ typology in his latest book . It will be partial, maybe biased and probably even nostalgic at times.

In his answer to the Cour des comptes (the French audit office), the ministry of education underlined that France had an original approach to the assessment of the educational system compared to other countries as a department within central administration is a main actor of research, works and surveys conducted on the educational system. In many other countries, assessment works are commissioned to external agencies or to academic teams.

DEP was established in 1964 and became DEPP, the second P standing for performance . Beyond the acronym shift, it is the conception that policymakers have of the missions of this department that has changed considerably. The comparison of the decrees setting out the missions of DEP(P) before and after the reorganisation of the central administration within the Education nationale is enlightening. There was a clear shift from the definition and implementation of the assessment scheme for the educational system to the design and implementation – at the request of the other departments with the French ministry of education – of a programme of assessments, studies, and surveys of all aspects of the educational system .

To what extent does it change the practice and role of DEPP? To answer this question, it is necessary to explore the following points:

• The relationship between DEPP and education policymakers (and DEPP’s degree of scientific and political autonomy);

• The relationship with the other – internal or external – organisations that contribute to the assessment of the educational system and of its policies;

• The relationship with the actors and “users” of the educational system;

• The capacity of the educational system to be accountable;

• The relationship with the research environment and its contributions to it.

At a time when many wonder if it is still legitimate for a department within the ministry of education to contribute to assessments and steering of the policies of this very ministry, these questions should be the opportunity for determining the conditions to meet for this department to be efficient and fair. To what degree are these conditions different for an internal and an external organisation?

Education et sociétés
Numéro 21
Former des élites dans un monde incertain
Coordonné par Yves Dutercq
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Association internationale des sociologues de langue françaiseComité de recherche n °7 Éducation, Formation, Socialisation
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