Quality Control & Assurance
In identifying the strategic goals of improving student achievement, the school environment, partnership of the community and school staff effectiveness, the “no-child-left-behind” initiative launched by the Ministry of Education (MoE) in Singapore has necessitated the aggregate collection of disparate data from hundreds of primary, secondary and tertiary institutions across the country. The quality of the data obtained from these myriad sources will determine the effectiveness of the initiative and hence demands a rigorous approach by the government of Singapore in collaboration with educational institutions, students, parents, academics and administrators towards policymaking and developing a sound technical architecture which can support the all encompassing strategic goals.
The “no-child-left-behind” initiative, while beneficial to society at large for gaining access to a wide body of data relating to the quality of education in the country’s academic institutions, also creates a strong incentive for these institutions to attempt to project a better standing of their student and faculty pools through manipulation of data in their information systems and other nefarious means. The MoE can refer in detail the issues plaguing the adoption of a similar policy in the USA, which resulted in institutions adopting dubious and reprehensible tactics to create an artificial illusion of
(a) Exaggerating test scores by lowering examination standards
(b) Selectively excluding students of certain classes, economic backgrounds and races
(c) Discriminating between students on the basis of their historical academic performance
Compounding the issue of the collection of quality data is the wide variability in the technological capabilities of academic institutions, which renders the collection of data across their information systems a complex and challenging task.
A final concern related to the domain of assuring quality of data is the transformation of qualitative information such as text based feedback from parents, instructors and students into a form that is suitable for analysis and reporting that can be used by all relevant stakeholders.
A representative diagram outlining the steps of the proposed quality assurance framework for the initiative is provided in Figure 1. A program of this nature should designed with a view to mitigate as far an extent as possible the issues identified in the previous section as well as provide for the automated collection of accurate data, which is the most important dimension of quality.
Figure 1 A quality assurance framework for “no-child-left-behind”
Planning for quality
The process of quality assurance must necessarily begin with a comprehensive dialog between institutions that are affiliated with the various stakeholders. The MoE must institute governing and regulatory bodies for advisory, technical standards and data...