Background and development of Valssi

Early childhood education and care

Valssi is part of the national framework for the evaluation of early childhood education and care. Valssi is being developed as part of the ‘Varhaiskasvatuksen laadun arvioinnin kehittäminen ja järjestäjien tuki’ (‘Developing the quality evaluation of early childhood education and care and support for organisers’) project in 2020–2023. Content development is handled by a group of experts appointed for the project, while technical development is handled by CSC in collaboration with FINEEC and the Ministry of Education and Culture.

What is Valssi?

Valssi is a national quality evaluation system designed to support the quality management of ECEC organisers and service providers. Valssi is a feature-rich digital service that can be used to carry out the collection of evaluation data, obtain operator-specific evaluation reports, produce location-specific evaluation summaries and publish the statutory evaluation results of operators.

Valssi’s user interface and all evaluation forms in the system will be implemented both in Finnish and Swedish. FINEEC will provide support for the commissioning of Valssi and completing evaluation processes.

Provisions on Valssi will be laid down in the Act on the Finnish Education Evaluation Centre. The proposal is currently being debated by Parliament. According to the proposal, FINEEC and early childhood education and care operators using Valssi will have the role of joint controllers and processors of personal data concerning self-evaluations. Once the Act has been passed, necessary background information from Varda, the data warehouse for early childhood education and care, could also be linked to Valssi.

Provisions on Valssi are laid down on the Act on the Finnish Education Evaluation Centre.  The law entered into force on January 1, 2023, and with it, the introduction of the system and the use of Varda as a source of background information needed for evaluation became possible.

What can you do with Valssi?

Valssi will enable municipal and private ECEC organisations and day-care centres to introduced versatile tools for evaluating both the structures supporting ECEC services and the core processes.

With the help of Valssi, data on the level at which the activities are carried out can be collected easily across the entire organisation. Once the data collection has been completed, an evaluation report for a specific operator can be produced from Valssi as a quantitative summary of the respondents’ self-evaluation results. The report can be reviewed and discussed together both in the management of the organisation and in day-care centres.

We will offer support for day-care centres using Valssi and a workshop model for discussing the evaluation report. In day-care centres, the personnel together with the head will define the key strengths and development areas of the theme to be evaluated as well as agree on development measures and their monitoring. The head will save the unit’s summary to Valssi and inform guardians of the results.

In addition to the evaluation report, the management of the organisation can examine the summaries saved by the heads of day-care centres and other information concerning the organisation, such as customer service surveys. Based on this information, the strengths and development areas of the entire organisation can be identified, and plans of action and monitoring plans can be drawn up. Once the evaluation has been completed, Valssi is used to publish the evaluation results and inform the entire organisation about them, including guardians, stakeholders and decision-makers.

Who is Valssi for?

Valssi has different user profiles: maintainers, main users, implementers and respondents. Maintainers are the parties responsible for the operation of the system, such as FINEEC.

Main users are persons responsible for the quality of early childhood education and care and its development in the organisation. The main users can use Valssi as part of the organisation’s quality management. They can deploy Valssi’s evaluation tools, view operator-specific evaluation reports and site summaries, and eventually save evaluation results. Valssi main user rights are granted by the responsible users of Studyinfo in municipalities and, for private service providers, by the Finnish National Agency for Education. The main user grants main user and implementer rights within their organisation.

Implementers are heads of day-care centres responsible for carrying through the evaluation process at unit level. The heads of day-care centres send the evaluation forms to the staff and support the staff at different stages of the evaluation. Together with the staff, the heads identify strengths and development areas associated with the theme to be evaluated, draw up a development plan and monitor its implementation.

Respondents are staff members responsible for education and instruction at day-care centres whose information has been saved to Varda. While respondents do not need to log in to Valssi, a precondition for using Valssi is that the work email addresses of heads of day-care centres and employees have been saved to Varda. For childminders, evaluation forms and possibilities of responding to them will be developed later. Evaluation forms have also been designed for guardians. These forms will be introduced at a later stage not only in Finnish and Swedish but also in other languages.

When will Valssi open?

Valssi will be rolled out step by step. In March 2023, we will organise a pilot aimed at producing information and receiving feedback on how Valssi and the evaluation tools work. As wide a range as possible of municipalities and service providers will be included in the pilot. They will be familiarised with Valssi use with FINEEC’s assistance. Valssi will be commissioned for use by all organisations in August 2023.

Theoretical background

In 2018, FINEEC published an outline of factors affecting the quality of ECEC based on ECEC legislation, steering documents and research. In conjunction with this, FINEEC also published the quality indicators for ECEC, which verify the essential and desirable properties of high-quality early childhood education and care. You can learn more about the document, the theoretical background and key evaluation concepts here: Link

Development of Valssi

2016

  • FINEEC’s first public office related to ECEC is established.
  • A long-term evaluation plan that includes working groups and consultations is drawn up.

2017

  • A report on the current state of ECEC evaluation (Mikkola et al., 2017) is published (in Finnish): Link (the link will be updated)

2018

  • The project’s 1st expert group starts its work.
  • Guidelines and recommendations for evaluating the quality of early childhood education and care (Vlasov et al., 2018) are published: Link
  • FINEEC organises training and presentations on the quality evaluation of and preparation of indicators for ECEC.

2019

  • Quality evaluation training events continue.
  • The planning of evaluation processes, system and tools is started.
  • A technical description of the quality evaluation system is prepared.

2020

  • The project’s 2nd expert group starts its work.
  • The development of the quality evaluation system and evaluation tools is launched.
  • The definition of quality criteria commences in collaboration with researchers.
  • The piloting of evaluation tools is started in autumn 2020.

2021

  • The development of the system, tools and processes continues.
  • The 2nd expert group’s operating terms is extended.
  • A steering group is appointed for the development of the system.
  • The piloting of the evaluation tools is concluded: Link
  • The ECEC Evaluation Network commences operation. More information on the Evaluation Network (in Finnish): Link
  • Mapping of user experiences.

2022

  • The development of the system, tools and processes continues.
  • Network cooperation is continued.
  • Provisions on the system are laid down in the Act on the Finnish Education Evaluation Centre: joint controller, disclosure of data and common interfaces with the national data warehouse for early childhood education and care (Varda).
  • FINEEC informs and trains ECEC management and personnel on the use of the system.

2023

  • Valssi and the evaluation tools are deployed in phases.
  • Valssi is piloted with selected ECEC organisers from March 2023 onwards.
  • Valssi is opened to all ECEC organisers and service providers in August 2023.
  • User training events continue and FINEEC supports organisers in the deployment of the system.

2024

  • The development of the system and evaluation processes continues.
  • FINEEC provides training to ECEC organisers and creates support material for evaluation.
  • The possibilities of carrying out the national collections of ECEC evaluation data using Valssi will be realised during the 2024–2027 evaluation plan term.

Potential national evaluation data collections in early childhood education and care using Valssi will be carried out during the evaluation plan period 2024–2027.

Further information:

  • Project plan (in Finnish): Link
  • Expert group (in Finnish): Link
  • Public wiki for the technical development of Valssi (in Finnish): Link
  • Questions related to Valssi as a whole: janniina.vlasov@karvi.fi