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Assessment in general lower secondary education

Austria

6.Secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education

6.3Assessment in general lower secondary education

Last update: 3 February 2024

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Education standards and competences

The Austrian concept of education standards puts one focus on the acquisition of basic subject-specific competences as a prerequisite for sustainable and lifelong learning. When planning and carrying out classroom instruction, teachers have to take into consideration the systematic development of competences and the education standards which relate to these competences and can be deduced from the curriculum of the respective school type.

Under the direction of the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research and the Federal Institute for Quality Assurance in the Austrian School System (IQS), the individual competence assessment PLUS (iKMPLUS) aims at measuring the extent to which students attain the intended learning outcomes in German, Mathematics and English as set out by the „Bildungsstandards“.

The first implementation of iKMPLUS took place across the board at the 7th school level took place in the period November 21 to December 20, 2022 (German reading, mathematics, English receptive skills). Starting in the winter semester 2023/24 it will be annually at the 7th and 8th school level in the modules (German  reading, mathematics, English receptive skills). 

Pupil/Students assessment

In compulsory secondary schools and academic secondary schools/lower cycle, all performance appraisals must be spread as evenly as possible over the respective assessment period. The following forms of individual performance appraisals exist:

  • determination of the pupils’ involvement in class;
  • oral performance appraisals (exams and exercises);
  • written performance appraisals (tests);
  • written exams (tests and dictations);
  • practical performance appraisals;
  • graphical performance appraisals.

In compulsory secondary schools from the 6th grade, pupils are assigned to the educational objectives of either the Standard or Standard Academic Secondary School curricula in the differentiated compulsory subjects of German, first modern language and mathematics.

If the child meets the Standard Academic Secondary School educational objectives, this corresponds to an Academic Secondary School, Lower Cycle, assessment and is stated in the school report. If performance no longer meets the minimum requirements of the Standard Academic Secondary School educational objectives, they are assigned to the Standard performance level and assessed accordingly after all support measures have been exhausted. A five-part grading scale is used for both educational objectives; “Very good” for Standard educational objectives is equivalent to “Satisfactory” for Standard Academic Secondary School educational of Secondary School educational objectives. A number of differentiating measures are used. These can be decided on by each individual school. The individual strengths of learning and performance are recorded in the “supplementary differentiating performance report”, which is issued from 5th to 7th grade in addition to the normal school report, and in 8th grade together with the mid-year school report. Learning progress and decisions about educational and career paths are dealt with at the regular “Pupil-Parent-Teacher meetings”.

The so-called early warning system as defined in §19(4) of the School Education Act provides for a special information system which is to enable pupils, as well as their parents, to react in time to an impending failed grade in the annual certificate. If, at a certain time, a pupil will have to be failed on the basis of his or her past performance (active participation in class work, written and oral tests, etc.), the pupil, or one of his or her parents/guardians, has to be invited to a counselling meeting with the respective teacher; the purpose of this meeting is to find out the reasons for the deficit in performance, to determine where the performance deficits are, and to develop a concrete strategy for remedying such deficits.

Progression of pupils/students

Progression from one class and/or stage to another is generally regulated in the School Education Act.

Pupils of compulsory secondary and academic secondary schools / lower cycle who have completed one grade successfully, which means that their end-of-year report contains assessments in all compulsory subjects, with none of them marked with "fail", are entitled to progress to the next higher grade.

However, the class conference (all teachers of a class) may decide that pupils are entitled to progress to the next higher grade even if they are marked with "fail" in one compulsory subject, unless they were already marked with "fail" in the same subject in the end-of-year report of the previous school year and if, based on the rest of their performance, they are expected to meet the prerequisites for successful participation in classes of the next higher grade.

Pupils are all taught according to the same educational objectives.

If a pupil is marked with "fail" in one or two compulsory subjects in the end-of-year report, he or she can take an exam in this one or these two subjects at the beginning of the following school year. Should the pupil fail, s/he is not entitled to progress to the next higher grade. 

Certification

When students leave compulsory secondary school they have usually completed 8 years of schooling. To fulfil the period of compulsory schooling (9 years) they have to attend at least one year of upper secondary education. Since the 2016/17 school year, the law on compulsory training (Compulsory Training Act - Education and Training up to 18) has aimed to support all under 18-year-olds as far as possible so they can complete some form of education or training that goes beyond the compulsory school-leaving qualification.

Students in compulsory secondary schools and academic secondary schools / lower cycle receive an end-of-year report at the end of each school year, in which the grades for the respective school subject are indicated. There are two performance levels here – “standard” and “standard AHS”.

At the end of the 8th grade, pupils of compulsory secondary schools are issued an end-of-year report and final certificate if they have completed all subjects successfully. This is a prerequisite for admission to upper secondary education.

Pupils who have completed the lower cycle of AHS are not handed a final certificate, but are given an end-of-year report. They continue their educational career either in the upper cycle of AHS or by attending another school type.

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