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Norway:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

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Overview Norway

Contents

Norway:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Norway:Historical Development

Norway:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Norway:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Norway:Political and Economic Situation

Norway:Organisation and Governance

Norway:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Norway:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Norway:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Norway:Organisation of Private Education

Norway:National Qualifications Framework

Norway:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

Norway:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

Norway:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Norway:Funding in Education

Norway:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Norway:Higher Education Funding

Norway:Adult Education and Training Funding

Norway:Early Childhood Education and Care

Norway:Organisation of Early Childhood Education and Care

Norway:Teaching and Learning in Early Childhood Education and Care

Norway:Assessment in Early Childhood Education and Care

Norway:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

Norway:Single Structure Education (Integrated Primary and Lower Secondary Education)

Norway:Organisation of Single Structure Education

Norway:Teaching and Learning in Single Structure Education

Norway:Assessment in Single Structure Education

Norway:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Single Structure Education

Norway:Upper Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Norway:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

Norway:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

Norway:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

Norway:Organisation of Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Norway:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Norway:Assessment in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Norway:Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Norway:Higher Education

Norway:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Norway:First Cycle Programmes

Norway:Bachelor

Norway:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Norway:Second Cycle Programmes

Norway:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Norway:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Norway:Adult Education and Training

Norway:Distribution of Responsibilities

Norway:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Norway:Main Providers

Norway:Main Types of Provision

Norway:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Norway:Teachers and Education Staff

Norway:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Norway:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Norway:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Norway: Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Norway:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Norway:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Norway:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Norway:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Norway:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Norway:Management and Other Education Staff

Norway:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Norway:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Norway:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Norway:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Norway:Management Staff for Higher Education

Norway:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Norway:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Norway:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Norway:Quality Assurance

Norway:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Norway:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Norway:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Norway:Educational Support and Guidance

Norway:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Norway:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Norway:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Norway:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Norway:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Norway:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Norway:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Norway:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Norway:Mobility and Internationalisation

Norway:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Norway:Mobility in Higher Education

Norway:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Norway:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Norway:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Norway:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Norway:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Norway:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Norway:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Norway:National Reforms in School Education

Norway:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Norway:National Reforms in Higher Education

Norway:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Norway:European Perspective

Norway:Legislation

Norway:Glossary

Responsible Bodies

Early Childhood Education and Care

The Ministry of Education and Research has the overall responsibility for quality in kindergartens. The goals, purposes and responsibilities are regulated by the Kindergarten Act and the Framework Plan for the Content and Tasks of Kindergartens.

The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training is responsible for the implementation of the national kindergarten policy and for the development of a solid knowledge base and guidance materials to support the quality work in kindergartens. 

The County Governor has a central role in achieving the main political goals concerning quality in kindergartens through guidance and inspections of the municipalities and the administration of state grants aimed at raising the kindergarten staff’s professional competencies as part of national strategic plans in the sector.

The Municipalities are responsible for kindergartens, both public and private. The local authority is responsible for the approval, supervision and guidance of kindergartens and for ensuring that public and private kindergarten owners meet the requirements stated in the regulations.

Kindergarten owners (both public and private) are responsible for observing laws and regulations, the content of the Framework Plan and for quality development in their kindergartens.

Primary education and secondary education

The Ministry of Education and Research has the overall responsibility for quality assurance in primary and secondary education in Norway on a national level. The goals, purposes and responsibilities are regulated by the Education Act and the Independent Schools Act with associated regulations, including the national curriculum for primary and secondary education: the Knowledge Promotion. 

The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training is responsible for the development and implementation of quality assessment of primary and secondary education on a national level. This includes responsibility for the Quality Assessment System (QAS).

The County Governor is responsible for guidance and inspection on a local (municipal) level and on a regional level (county) level.

The municipalities are responsible for primary and lower secondary education. The authority is responsible for providing supervision and guidance and for ensuring that the schools meet the requirements stated in the regulations. It is responsible for establishing a reliable quality system and for following up on the implementation of the work on quality development in education.

The counties are responsible for upper secondary schools and VET providers. The authority is responsible for establishing a reliable quality system and for following up on the implementation of the work on quality development in education and work-based learning. This also includes enterprises or agencies that run training courses for adults, training within the criminal administration system and training at social and medical institutions. The authority approves apprenteiceship places and is responsible for providing places to the apprentices. It is also responsible for ensuring that the apprentices are being followed up at the training establishment and that they pass their final apprenticeship examinations. The authority must also ensure that technical managers are given the necessary training to enable them to mentor the apprentices. The quality system for vocational education and training in Norway is inspired by the European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for VET (EQAVET).

Approaches and Methods for Quality Assurance

Early Childhood Education and Care

In Norway there is no external quality assurance of kindergartens. According to the Framework Plan, kindergartens are to carry out internal quality assessments. The well-being and development of the group of children and individual children shall therefore be observed and assessed on an ongoing basis. Attention must be paid to interaction amongst the children, between children and staff and amongst the staff. The work of the kindergarten shall be assessed, i.e. described, analysed and interpreted, in relation to criteria set out in the Kindergarten Act, this Framework Plan and any local guidelines and plans. Furthermore, the Framework Plan states that kindergartens are free to choose methods and scopes based on local circumstances and needs. 

The goal of all quality work in the kindergarten sector is the well-being and development of the children. The quality system for kindergartens is based on research, statistics and different quality development tools and resources. Through the system, kindergartens, kindergarten owners, local and national authorities have access to information about the state of the kindergarten sector and access to tools for developing quality in kindergartens. The system provides information about kindergartens available to parents and other interested stakeholders and can contribute to dialogue and quality development.

As mentioned above, there are no special requirements in the Kindergarten Act or in the Framework Plan concerning external quality assurance, the use of particular methods or compulsory use of tools. However, through the quality system the Directorate for Education and Training offers a knowledge base, tools, supportive measures and guides designed to help kindergartens, kindergarten owners and local kindergarten authorities with their internal quality assessment.

The knowledge base consists of research, data and analyses that say something about the state of the kindergarten sector and about what contributes to quality in kindergartens. Every year the Directorate for Education and Training collects data from kindergartens and carries out a mapping survey as well as other surveys that give a picture of conditions in the kindergarten sector. This data is used both nationally and locally in the assessment of the kindergarten sector. Among the voluntary tools offered in the quality system are:

The Status Analysis (Ståstedsanalysen) is a reflection and process tool for kindergartens. It combines data from BASIL and other sources of knowledge – e.g. kindergarten parent surveys – with the staff’s assessment of the kindergarten’s pedagogical practices. Based on this internal evaluation, the kindergarten chooses and prioritises goals and measures for further quality work in the kindergarten.

The Kindergarten Parent Survey is available – on a voluntary basis – to all kindergartens from November 2016. The survey will be conducted annually.

Support materials for external kindergarten evaluation. The method described in the support materials underlines that the evaluation should be carried out by peers from other kindergartens, and it builds on the Status Analysis.

Support materials for pedagogical documentation – a working method where the personnel and children reflect systematically upon collected documentation from the kindergarten practice.

RefLex is a self-assessment tool for the local kindergarten authorities. The goal is to help ensure compliance with the Kindergarten Act and related regulations.

Children's well-being – adults' responsibility. Preventing bullying in kindergarten (pdf) – a guide for kindergarten staff.

Language in kindergarten – much more than just talk (pdf-norwegian) – a guide for kindergarten staff.

Data, analyses and research are disseminated through different channels and in different forms and for different target groups (only in Norwegian):

Barnehagefakta (Facts on Kindergartens)

Barnehagespeilet (Kindergarten Mirror) (pdf-norwegian)

BASIL (Facts and Indicators on Kindergartens)

Vetuva (Magazine for Scandinavian Research on Kindergartens)

Primary education and secondary education

The primary objective of the quality system in primary and secondary education, vocational education and training included, is quality development.

The quality system for VET is inspired by the recommendation on the establishment of the European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for VET. The aim is to improve the pupils’, apprentices´ and training candidates’ learning outcomes and enable them to become good citizens, pursue higher education and evolve into competent skilled workers.

The basis for the system is setting goals and drawing up 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. These are the main sources of information about quality in education:

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, 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.no are examination results and results from national tests:

Examination results: 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.

National tests: 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 be able 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.

Mapping tests: The purpose of mapping tests is to identify the need for follow-up and adaptation at an individual and school level through early intervention. Mapping tests are used to identify pupils scoring below a given limit and who may need additional assistance.

The results from the mapping tests in Years 1–4 are not aggregated and published, and the tests are therefore primarily useful to individual pupils, the teachers and quality processes at the school.

Other voluntary tests: The purpose of the voluntary tests is to provide support to schools, and they should help teachers assess their pupils. Some of them test academic performance and can be used for both formative and summative assessment, while others test the pupils’ skills and are primarily intended for formative assessment. The tests allow schools to compare themselves with the national average.

The results from the voluntary tests are not aggregated and published, and the tests are intended to support individual pupils, their teachers and the quality processes at the school.

User Surveys are the sources for data on the learning environment. 

The Pupil Survey and the Apprentice Survey 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. These surveys are mandatory. In addition, there are user surveys which are voluntary, such as the Teacher Survey, the Parent Survey and the Adult Education Survey.

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.

Inspections

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.

The Quality Report (Tilstandsrapporten)

In 2009 a new statute was introduced, requiring local authorities 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, should examine the report. 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.

 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 give priority to. 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.

RefLex

RefLex is an online tool designed to help public schools and school owners determine whether their practices are in line with the Education Act and associated regulations.

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.