School Management and Organization
The roles of school leaders are defined in the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act (2010). While the principal has the responsibility to enforce curriculum guidelines, teachers have a great deal of autonomy over curriculum and instruction, while the principal is a largely managerial role.
However, Estonian school leaders have considerable autonomy in terms of allocating professional development funds and determining teacher salaries, salary increases, and hiring/termination procedures. They are also given authority over school policies on student discipline and assessment.
Accountability and Incentive Systems
Internal evaluation is used to judge the effectiveness of teaching and education activities and management of preschool institutions, basic schools, upper secondary schools, and vocational schools. Internal evaluations are conducted by the institutions themselves, not by the municipal government. Educational institutions are given considerable autonomy in drawing up an internal evaluation report at least once during the period of their school development plans. The report lists the strengths and areas for improvement of the operations of the school. The Ministry of Education maintains the Estonia Educational Information System (EEIS) an online portal that contains school, student, teacher and system level data on all levels of the education system. Individualized data are password-protected, so, for example, students can log in to see their progress towards graduation requirements, or teachers can log in to see evaluation results. School and system-level data, including report cards that track schools progress along indicators of student performance and course offerings, are available to the public. These in turn form the basis for principals’ and districts’ internal evaluations.