The quality system gives an opportunity to investigate the quality of school learning environments and learning outcomes as preparation for participation in quality development processes.
The Norwegian government has defined the following three sector goals for primary and secondary education:
- The pupils shall have a good, inclusive learning environment.
- The pupils shall master basic skills and have sound subject knowledge.
- More pupils and apprentices shall complete upper secondary education and training.
Quality in education can be defined as the degree of fulfilment of these sector goals as well as the curriculum and the Education Act.
The system contains goals and plans nationally, on a local/county authority level and in each school and enterprise. Furthermore, the system regards quality work as a continuous process where assessments are followed up with adjustments and new goals and where all participants should be involved and have different roles. In schools, this means parents, pupils, teachers, the school management and the school owner.
The quality areas are classified in accordance with structure, process and result quality.
Main sources of information on quality
The School Portal (Skoleporten)
The School Portal presents data on a school/municipal/county/national level, grouped into five key areas: Learning outcomes, learning environment, completion of upper secondary education and training and resources and school facts. Data is used for quality development by all the responsible bodies but in different ways and to varying degrees of detail depending on the body.
Sources for data on learning outcomes in Skoleporten (udir.no/skoleporten) are examination results and results from national tests.
User Surveys are the sources for data on the learning environment.
Every year the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training publishes examination results from Year 10 (lower secondary school) and from upper secondary school at a school level, municipal level, county level and national level. The results show the mean grades in selected subjects. The diagrams also show the distribution of the students across the different grades.
The purpose of national tests is to generate knowledge about the pupils’ basic skills. All schools are obliged to hold national tests in reading, numeracy and English in Years 5, 8 and 9. The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training publishes results from the national tests on all levels in the school system. From 2014 the results are presented as mean values with standard errors for the different levels of reporting, in addition to being reported as the proportion of students at different competency levels (benchmark). The tests are designed to follow changes in results over time for schools, local education authorities and nationally. The results are available to teachers and prepared in such a way that they are useful in the teachers’ continuing work with the pupils.
The Pupil Survey and the Apprentice Survey
The surveys allow pupils and apprentices to express their views on the learning environment in their schools and training establishments. The surveys provide important information for all the responsible bodies.
The Pupil Survey is mandatory at levels 7, 10 and 11. The Apprentice Survey is mandatory for apprentices during the second year of apprenticeship. In addition, there are user surveys which are voluntary, such as the Teacher Survey, the Parent Survey and the Adult Education Survey.
The Quality Report (Tilstandsrapporten)
Local authorities are to produce an annual status report on the learning environment, learning outcomes and completion rates. The school owner, i.e. the local council, county council or the board of directors in the case of private schools, discuss status and use the information to plan for development schemes. The purpose of the report is to enable knowledge-based quality development and to embed this process at a political level within the municipality. The School Portal provides a report template that local authorities may use at their discretion.
Point of View-analysis / The Status Analysis (Ståstedsanalysen)
The Status Analysis has been developed for use in school-based assessment. The aim is to encourage joint reflection and discussion on the school’s practices and on which quality areas the school wishes to prioritize. There are two versions of the report – one for primary and lower secondary schools and one for upper secondary schools. The Status Analysis is an optional tool.
Locally developed tools and resources: In addition to the mandatory tests and surveys, some local and county authorities have chosen to develop their own quality assessment tools, such as local tests and surveys, mandatory only for their own schools.
International surveys and national research
Norway participates in international comparative studies that provide us with information about trends in the pupils’ attainment over time: PISA, TIMSS, TIMSS Advanced, PIRLS, ICCS, ICILS, TALIS and the Starting Strong Survey. A number of external research-based evaluations of various national initiatives are published every year on the website udir.no.
Norway introduced a new approach to inspections in 2014 which combines both guidance and inspection. The County Governor´s Office carries out the inspections and publishes the inspection reports from public schools within their own county. The reports are available to the public and are used in local quality processes.