Organic Law on the Improvement of the Quality of Education (LOMCE)
According to the Spanish Government, the primary goal of the new Organic Law on Education (LOMCE) is to address one of the top economic and social problems of Spain, the extremely high-school drop-out rate, which in Spain stands at 25% compared to the 13% EU average. At the same time, the share of young people aged between 15 and 29 that are neither studying nor working is above 23%, the highest rate in advanced economies.
The Spanish education system has other salient problems like a very high rate of students who fail and need to retake entire academic years, an extremely high youth unemployment rate and poor performance scores according to the OECD - PISA indicators.
To address these problems the education reform:
- introduces early tests on school performance to detect special learning difficulties
- increases the flexibility of the system allowing for the adaptation of some degrees to the students' preference and educational trajectory
- extends the scope for external evaluation to a larger part of the education system, as a means to increase quality
- centralizes the authority to the Spanish government, somehow disempowering the regional governments, the parents associations and even school staff
Perhaps the main shortcoming of the education reform is that it s silent about what to do in order to improve a key determinant of the quality of the education system: teachers' quality, broadly understood as teachers' education, abilities and motivation. International evidence has shown that, as difficult as it is to measure, this human factor is the most influential one in rendering good performance in primary and secondary education.
The reform is scheduled to enter into force in the academic year 2014-2015 and to unfold gradually. However in the current circumstances, it is not clear at all whether, how and when the reform will actually come into force. Several organizations have reacted swiftly against the new law on different grounds. For some, it is a regressive movement that may create excessive segregation in primary schools. For the Catalan and Basque regional governments, the law also invades their competencies and both governments have announced they will not apply the new law in its current form and the Catalan government stands ready to challenge it in the Spanish Constitutional Court.
Sadly, there has not been legislative stability in Spain regarding education and eight different laws regulating primary and secondary have been drafted since the beginning of the democracy in Spain in 1977. However, not all of them have entered into force as some have been challenged in the Constitutional Court and some others have been drafted by one political party but were not applied, or abolished, when the other political party has been in office.