Quality management systems (QM systems) have existed in general and vocational schools in Austria for a long time. Following the 2017 Education Reform Act (Bildungsreformgesetz 2017), the previously separate QM systems for general education (SQA) and vocational education and training (QIBB) were unified and assigned a new focus. Starting in the school year 2021/22, the new quality management system for schools (QMS) is gradually put into practice. The content of the QMS builds on the new quality framework, which came into force as early as in January 2021.
QMS – The new quality management system for schools
The new QMS will be gradually put into practice in all school types throughout Austria within the next two school years; it aims to provide the best possible support for the professional work of teaching staff and the learning achievements of pupils.
For this to succeed, schools should see themselves as continuously evolving learning organisations. The school management and all teachers should work on school quality in a coordinated manner to improve its learning processes and results systematically. For this purpose, the QMS provides appropriate tools and methods via the website www.qms.at (such as a school development plan and a quality manual for internal school evaluation and feedback). The quality development and assurance process at each school location is controlled by the school management, supported by school quality coordinators.
A key aspect of this process is generating and using evidence (information, documents and data) about the quality of schools and teaching to make well-informed decisions about schools and pupils.
Uniform quality framework
The QM system is incorporated in the ‘quality framework for schools’. This framework, which has been in effect since January 2021, was developed by experts in recent years and applies to all school types. It is the basis for the content implemented in the QMS and for the topics addressed.
In the five quality dimensions shown in Figure 1, the quality framework describes the essential characteristics of school quality. Four of these dimensions focus on processes, and one on the results and impacts of the school's work. To describe relevant aspects of school quality in these dimensions, each is divided into quality areas. The content of each quality area includes an introductory core message and the quality criteria.
The reorientation of quality management at schools has also led to changes at central institutions. The Austrian reference point for quality assurance in vocational education and training (ARQA-VET) was converted to the reference point for quality in general and vocational education and training (RQB) at the beginning of 2021. The RQB supports the education ministry in the implementation of the QMS.
In July 2020, the Federal Institute for Quality Assurance in the Austrian School Sector (IQS) was established. It is involved in education monitoring and provides analyses and academic expertise for evidence-based further development of the school system.
QUALITÄTS MANAGEMENT SYSTEM FÜR SCHULEN [Detailed information about the QMS and the quality framework]
ARQA-VET [Reference point for quality in general and vocational education and training (RQB)]
Institut des Bundes für Qualitätssicherung im österreichischen Schulwese