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Assessment policy: introduction - Lithuania

The Ministry of Education and Science approved the National Curriculum and Educational Standards and the policy document on assessment The Concept of Assessment of Pupils’ Achievement and Progress. These documents require a modern deep understanding the processes of teaching, learning and assessment and reviewing the role of teacher and classroom practice. It calls for changes in classroom practice and the schools need support to implement the national curriculum, to implement assessment in teaching and learning and to develop teachers’ assessment skills.
The Concept of Assessment of Pupils’ Achievement and Progress introduces the main features of a strategy for assessment, sets assessment in the context of learning and teaching, discusses the implications for school assessment policy, and identifies key elements in assessment.
On the basis of Concept schools should review and develop their assessment policy:

  • the principles and intentions which should underline each school’s assessment practice;
  • the roles of those involved in the process of assessment;
  • the ways in which the key principles of assessment for learning can be implemented in the classroom.

The assessment should:

  • be part of the planning in  teaching and learning
  • focus on how pupils learn
  • be recognised as an essential part of everyday classroom practice
  • be sensitive and constructive as any assessment has an emotional impact
  • encourage the learners’ motivation by emphasising progress and achievement rather than failure
  • promote commitment to learning goals and a shared understanding of the criteria by which they are assessed
  • provide opportunities for learners to improve upon their work
  • develop learners’ capacity for self-assessment
  • enable all learners to achieve their best and to have their efforts recognised
  • be regarded as a key professional skill for teachers

Promoting an inclusive approach in education policy in Lithuania

In Lithuania the field of special needs education has been the product of a long lasting earlier period, when the segregation of "the different" was a state policy.
Thus, it was very clear for the Lithuanian Ministry of Education that there was a urgent need to develop a special needs education field in accordance with the principles stated in the United Nations' Declaration of Human rights, The Children’s Convention, the Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education.
Another important issue is the commitment of Lithuania to The Dakar Education Forum where it was underlined:

The key challenge is to ensure that the broad vision of Education for All as an inclusive concept is reflected in national government and funding agency policies.
We are all at a different pace but nonetheless striving to develop Inclusive Education or School for All learners, where we put full participation, equality and community at the centre - as a clear dimension of quality in education.

Political level: promoting an inclusive approach in education policy

Lithuania’s first post-communist Constitution (1992) which was approved by a referendum in October 1992 affirms the determination of the Lithuanian nation to strive for an open, just and harmonious democratic society. It claims that every child must attend compulsory education until 16 years of age. The first basis in legislation for integrated education of children with special educational needs (SEN) is the document entitled The Act of Special Educational Provision for Children with Special Educational Needs in Mainstream Educational Institutions, May 27, 1993. This document was compiled in the context of the situation of special education in the country and accumulated experience of other countries in the managing of special education and it states that: Pupils with SEN in mainstream institutions may be educated:

  • in a mainstream group or class, following the mainstream curriculum, but with special methods applied
  • in a mainstream group or class following a modified mainstream curriculum
  • in a mainstream group or class following an alternative curriculum for those children who can not cope with a modified curriculum
  • in a mainstream group or class following an individual curriculum which is specifically designed according to the needs of the pupils
  • partly in a mainstream group or class, partly in a special group or class;
  • in a special group or class.

This document may be considered as the first one that started to legitimise inclusive education of pupils with SEN in mainstream institutions. It also mandates the parent’s formal right to choose the educational institution. It also recognises the unity of identification of special educational needs and serving these needs through a Special education board of a mainstream school.
Lithuania is improving its legislation, which will gradually lead to providing facilities to enhance developments and processes working towards inclusion.

The State Educational Strategy for 2003-2012 and a programme of its implementation (2003)

Special needs education field:

  • to implement ideas of “A School for All” into a real Lithuanian school practice
  • to ensure accessibility of all school types introducing formal and non-formal educational programmes to persons with SEN; to provide an opportunity for persons with SEN to learn in an environment that meets their needs;
  • to gradually decrease the number of special (boarding) schools and along with this to facilitate creating resource centres: the most advanced special (boarding) schools to be transformed into resource centres.

The Law on Education (2003)

Art. 15. Special Needs Education
15.2. Special needs education is provided by all compulsory and comprehensive education programmes. In order to meet the needs of a pupil, these programmes have to be changed, adapted or new special educational programmes created; an additional assistance has to be provided.
15.3. Special needs education can be provided by any school that offers compulsory or comprehensive education and other educational providers, and sometimes - special schools.
15.5. Persons with SEN [...] can acquire education and/or qualification.
The time needed for formal education can be prolonged for a person with SEN.
Art. 34 Accessibility of education to persons with SEN
34.3. Accessibility of education to persons with SEN is ensured by:

  • adapting school premises, providing psychological, special pedagogical and special assistance and special assistance devices and special educational materials;
  • other ways in accordance with legislation.

Art. 39 Legislation of learning achievement
39.4. At the end of a primary, general and secondary school education program [...] the pupil can get a learning achievement certificate.

Developing the system of provision of special pedagogical and psychological assistance

  • The model of provision of special pedagogical and psychological assistance and the Programme of its implementation in 2003-2005.
  • The order of financial assistance for municipalities that decide to establish municipal pedagogical psychological services in 2004.
  • The MoEd allocated 1 mill. Litas for the year 2004.
  • Funding from the EU Structural Funds: the two National projects related to the prevention of drop-outs and developing a network of PPS have been prepared.
  • The changes in the Law of the Local authorities: passing some relevant for pedagogical and psychological assistance.
  • From the year 2005 Lithuania allocates 20 % plus of the funding into the so called "back-packs” for each pupil with SEN in a mainstream setting. From this money additional pedagogical (special pedagogical) and psychological assistance will be provided. Some funding from such "back packs" might go to funding local PPS, teacher assistants etc.
  • To further improve the system of financing of the education system: necessary resources are provided by pupil’s back-pack to ensure a quality education to  pupils with SEN in mainstream schools.
    A new Concept of Teacher Education has been introduced. Therefore in the future each graduator will have the necessary knowledge for dealing with the diverse pupils’ body including pupils with SEN.
    The in-service teacher training system is further developed so that teachers can have an access to a bigger variety of programmes regarding inclusive education.
    Consultants on inclusive education who were prepared during the Nordic and Baltic project “A School for All” are disseminating their knowledge and experience.
    The model of provision of special educational materials was created (using the Swedish experience in this field).
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