There is growing emphasis on learning outcomes at policy and practice level; they are widely used in higher education and for occupational standards. The level descriptors of the eight-level framework are based on learning outcomes and are defined as knowledge (knowledge and comprehension), skills (ability to apply knowledge, communication and general skills) and competence (analysis, synthesis and assessment) ( Level descriptors are included in Regulation No 322 of the Cabinet of Ministers: Regulations on the education classification of Latvia. ).
Subject-based outcomes in general education have been defined in terms of knowledge, skills and attitudes. The ESF operational programme project ( Regulations No 670 of Cabinet of Ministers of 24 November 2015: The implementation regulations of the operational programme 'Growth and employment', specific target 8.3.1: 'To develop competences based general education content' (Latvian: Darbības programmas "Izaugsme un nodarbinātība" 8.3.1. specifiskā atbalsta mērķa "Attīstīt kompetenču pieejā balstītu vispārējās izglītības saturu"). http://likumi.lv/ta/id/278201-darbibas-programmas-izaugsme-un-nodarbinatiba-8-3-1-specifiska-atbalsta-merka-attistit-kompetencu-pieeja-balstitu-visparejas [accessed 17.1.19].), introduced in 2016, began the development of a competence-based general education programme. A learning-outcomes-based approach has been implemented in VET since 2007. VET institutions must use learning-outcomes-oriented occupational standards (stipulating knowledge, skills and competences necessary to performing relevant professional activity) when developing new vocational education programmes or altering programmes which have already been accredited (Cedefop, 2016). By updating and improving the quality of occupational standards ( Regulations No 633 of the Cabinet of Ministers of 27 September 2016: Procedure on the development occupational standard, professional qualification requirements (if there is no approved occupational standard) and sectoral qualification framework, (Latvian: Profesijas standarta, profesionālās kvalifikācijas prasību (ja profesijai neapstiprina profesijas standartu) un nozares kvalifikāciju struktūras izstrādes kārtība) http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=285032 ), and by a greater focus on learning outcomes, vocational education programmes were improved (MoES, 2013b, p. 13). In addition to occupational standards mentioned above, or requirements for professional qualifications and descriptors of the sectoral qualifications frameworks, the content of vocational education programmes is defined by the State vocational education standards specified by the relevant Cabinet regulations. These standards outline the strategic aims of education programmes, the mandatory content of education, and the basic principles and procedure for evaluating that content.
The development of modular vocational education is a policy priority. The Cabinet of Ministers approved regulations ( Regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers on the implementation of operational programme's growth and employment specific objective No 8.5.2: To ensure the compliance of vocational education to the European qualifications framework (in force since May 2016).) outlining measures for developing occupational standards, vocational education content, teaching/learning aids and assessment methods using the learning outcomes approach and EU tools ( The project is implemented by the National Centre for Education in cooperation with Employers' Confederation of Latvia, Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia and Latvian Agricultural Organisation Cooperation Council. During the project it is planned to elaborate: 160 occupational standards/professional qualification requirements, 184 modular vocational education programmes, 80 teaching/learning aids, the content of 210 professional qualification exams.).
The qualifications framework for higher education is founded on three Bologna cycles, based on learning outcomes. The Law on Higher Education Institutions includes the term 'learning outcomes', and provides a brief definition of the term. The State standards for academic and professional higher education set acquisition of knowledge, skills and competences in line with EQF levels ( Regulations No 240 of the Cabinet of Ministers of 13 May 2014: Regulations on State standard of academic education (Latvian: Noteikumi par valsts akadēmiskās izglītības standartu). http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=266187 [accessed 18.1.19]
Regulation No 512 of the Cabinet of Ministers of 26 August 2014: Regulation on State standard of second level professional higher education (Latvian: Noteikumi par otrā līmeņa profesionālās augstākās izglītības valsts standartu). http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=268761 [accessed 18.1.2019].). Other documents relating to the higher education sector, including The National concept of the development of higher education and higher education institutions in Latvia 2013-20 (Council of Higher Education, 2013), focus on learning outcomes. The latest strategic document, Guidelines for education development for 2014-20 (Latvian Ministry of Education and Science, 2013a), provides continuity of policy planning from the guidelines of the previous planning period 2007-13 (Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Latvia, 2006) with a strong focus on learning outcomes-based principles in all education subsystems.
In 2013, the Latvian NCP also carried out the study Introduction of learning outcomes in the Latvian education institutions to assess how learning outcomes are introduced and used in education institutions in Latvia. The study revealed that work in the implementation and application of learning outcomes differs significantly by level and type of education; differences are seen also in education institutions of the same level and type. The differences could be explained by the fragmented education system, lack of common understanding, as well as the huge workload of education institution personnel and their lack of time. However, the majority of respondents saw the positive aspects of learning outcomes (European Commission and Cedefop, 2018).