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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: 26 September 2022

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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.

In the interest of quality development standard examinations are carried out in the form of tests and surveys in the eighth grade. This aims to determine the level of competences actually achieved by pupils in the different schools.

In the future, the competence measurement (IKMPLUS) will be expanded also to the seventh grade (nationwide implementation from 2021/22). 

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 until the school year 2018/2019 in grades 7 and 8 German, mathematics and a modern foreign language were taught based on in-depth general education (the educational objective of the lower cycle of AHS) and basic general education (contents at a less complex level). The achievement of educational objectives was recorded in the end-of-year reports of grades 7 and 8 with differentiation between in-depth and basic general education. From 2019/2020 onwards, two performance levels (“standard” and “standard AHS”) with two corresponding five-part evaluation scales are introduced from the sixth grade onwards in the performance-differentiated compulsory subjects German, mathematics and first modern foreign language.

It is crucial that pupils are not taught differently according to educational objectives in the learning setting. The achievement of the different educational objectives is recorded in the performance appraisals, school reports and end-of-year reports.

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.

In addition to the assessment with numerical marks at compulsory secondary schools, an alternative form of performance-motivating assessment (verbal assessment, learning objective catalogues, portfolios, etc.) is carried out at least two times in each school year. Together with the school report, pupils are handed out an EDL (Ergänzende Differenzierende Leistungsbeschreibung, a supplementary differentiating performance description), which is oriented towards the pupils’ potential. 

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.

The performance assessment in the compulsory secondary school will be transparent and easy to understand from the school year 2019/2020. Two performance levels (“standard” and “standard AHS”) with two corresponding five-part evaluation scales will be introduced from the sixth grade onwards in the performance-differentiated compulsory subjects German, mathematics and first modern foreign language.

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.