About International Educational Assessment Network (IEAN)

The International Educational Assessment Network (IEAN) brings together policy makers and researchers from small nations and states to tackle collaboratively some of assessment’s most intransigent challenges. As countries internationally attempt to bring assessment purposes into better alignment, small countries potentially have much to learn from one another. The size of the country is a major factor in what approaches to the management of change are likely to have greatest impact. Collaboration across communities also matters. Research in sustainable change suggests that researchers, policy makers and practitioners have to work together to build policy and to anticipate and tackle potential challenges as policy is enacted (Hayward & Spencer, 2010, Hayward, 2015).  Relationships across communities have to be fostered and, for conversations to be sufficiently open to be able to tackle difficult challenges, all participants need to be in a safe space. Yet, all too often, assessment conversations are carried out in very public arenas, e.g., in the press, and there are few opportunities for safe spaces where international assessment research and policy communities can explore ideas, debate challenges and learn from one another’s experiences in a secure environment. The International Education Assessment Network of small nations and states (IEAN) has been established to provide such a safe, creative space. 

IEAN membership currently includes researchers and policy makers from Canada (British Columbia and Ontario), Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Queensland (Australia), Scotland, Singapore, Slovenia, Switzerland and Wales.

Why did we establish IEAN?

Assessment systems have the potential to enhance social justice but, in practice, have not yet achieved that potential. This network brings together international research and policy experts to share evidence from research and practice to generate new ideas to tackle long term problems.

Why was the inaugural meeting (May 2018) in Scotland?

Scotland's traditionally high international reputation in Assessment. A grant from the Nisbet family made the event possible; further support is being provided by Scottish Government who will fund post-event activities to build capacity in Assessment in Scotland.

What challenges is the IEAN addressing?

Internationally, including in Scotland, four assessment areas have consistently remained problematic. These four areas are under consideration by the IEAN:

How to change assessment in education systems in ways that remain sustainable over time.

How to realise the potential for assessment to enhance learning for every young person in every school and classroom.

How to gather information about how education systems are performing nationally in ways that do not have a negative impact on what happens in schools and classrooms.

What examinations might look like in future to match more closely ideas of what matters for learning in the 21st century.

Why focus on small countries?

Countries (nations/states) with a population size of less than 7/8 million have opportunities to use strategies for change that become far more complex in countries with larger populations. Small countries/states have better opportunities to learn with one another.

How does the IEAN work?

An annual meeting hosted by policy makers and researchers from a member country. During the first meeting each of the four areas of challenge was deliberated. Countries (researchers and policy makers) worked in small groups:

  • to support and challenge one another as each country described their aspirations and practices in that area;
  • to reflect on feedback from other countries and identify key areas for action to be taken forward in sub-groups.

What has happened since the inaugural meeting in May 2018?

Three sub-groups of countries have been working to take forward their area/s for action (regular contact via Skype/Zoom). They will report on progress at the next meeting of the group hosted by the Irish policy community in partnership with Dublin City University in Ireland in September 2019. The third meeting will be held in Norway in 2020 hosted by the Norwegian Government and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim.

IEAN Participating nations/states and institutions

Nation/StateIEAN Nation/State MailboxInstitutions
Canada (British Columbia and Ontario) education-IEAN-canada@glasgow.ac.uk

Queens University (Ontario)

Ministry of Education (British Columbia) 



Aalborg University

Municipal Council of Vesthimmerland 



Government of Iceland Directorate of Education

University of Iceland



Dublin City University

National Council for Curriculum and Assessment

 New Zealand education-IEAN-newzealand@glasgow.ac.uk

Massey University

New Zealand Ministry of Education

 Norway education-IEAN-norway@glasgow.ac.uk

Norwegian Directorate of Education and Training

NAFOL, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Volda University College

 Queensland (Australia)       education-IEAN-queensland@glasgow.ac.uk           Australian Catholic University
 Scotland education-IEAN-scotland@glasgow.ac.uk

Scottish Government

University of Glasgow
 Singapore education-IEAN-singapore@glasgow.ac.uk

Singapore Government Ministry of Education

National Institute of Education, Singapore

 Slovenia education-IEAN-slovenia@glasgow.ac.uk

Ministry of Education, Science and Sport

National Education Institute Slovenia

 Switzerland education-IEAN-switzerland@glasgow.ac.uk University of Geneva 
 Wales education-IEAN-wales@glasgow.ac.uk

Institute of Education, University of Wales Trinity Saint David

Welsh Government

IEAN Reports of annual meetings with action areas for research and policy development