According to the national curriculum, assessment is an integral part of the teaching and learning process.
Schools use both formative and summative assessment of knowledge and skills. In the course of assessment for learning, a teacher gives a student continuous oral or written feedback on results and deficiencies, helps to foster enthusiasm in the student and guides him or her in upcoming studies, as well as plans the objectives and ways of future learning, in cooperation with parents, support specialists and other.
A student’s knowledge and skills are assessed with regard to all compulsory and elective subjects foreseen by the curriculum. In the course of the assessment, a student’s knowledge and skills are compared with the expected learning outcomes and objectives of study that are included in the syllabus which forms the basis of study. A teacher may assess subject related knowledge and skills both during study activities as well as at the end of a study theme.
The knowledge, skills and experience of students are evaluated on a five-point scale where the grade "5" means "very good", "4" means "good", "3" means "satisfactory", "2" means "poor" and "1" means "weak".
In place of the five-point scale, a school may use a different assessment system within the school, and at stages I and II of basic school, descriptive verbal assessment may be used in student assessment with no numeric equivalent. The assessment principles of a school as well as the basis for their transfer into the five-point scale are determined in the school’s curriculum.
Latest at the end of the II stage of study, oral assessments that form a basis for a student’s progression to the next year must be transferred into the five-point scale. A student’s summative grades are also transferred into the five-point scale in case the student moves to a different school or leaves school.
Schools are obliged to provide a summative assessment and give written feedback to students and parents about learning outcomes and behaviour of students at least once every six months. A school is allowed to increase the frequency of summarizing of grades and use, for example, grades for one quarter or trimester instead of grades for half-year. Students and parents are informed about summative grades usually through school report or student record that may be either electronic or in paper form. Parents are informed of day-to-day grades and assessment through e-kool (e-school: electronic communication environment between home and school).
At least once during the school year, a student development process oriented interview is carried out at school, during which further studies and development goals are agreed upon with the participation of the student, class teacher and a parent.
In basic school, the external assessment of learning outcomesis conducted by means of national standard-determining tests and unified basic school final examinations. Nationally compiled standard-determining tests collect information about the development of general and subject area competencies of the national curriculum, achievement of the teaching and learning objectives of cross-curricular topics and subjects, and the acquisition of learning outcomes of the stage of study. The subjects, times and forms of the standard-determining tests are determined by the Minister of Education and Research and they are as follows:
Standard-determining tests at stage I (grades 1-3):
- in grade 3,mathematics;
- in grade 3, Estonian in an Estonian-medium school;
- in grade 3, Russian in a Russian-medium school;
- in grade 4, a standard-determining e-test in nature studies.
Standard-determining tests at stage II (grades 4-6):
- in grade 6, a standard-determining e-test in Estonian (or Estonian as a second language or Estonian for language immersion classes);
- in grade 6, a standard-determining e-test in mathematics;
- in grade 6, a standard-determining e-test in Russian in a Russian-medium school;
- in grade 7, a standard-determining e-test in nature studies.
The modern standard-determining e-tests are computer-based and taken electronically using the Examination Information System.
For finishing basic school, students of grade 9 who have studied according to the national curriculum for basic schools shall complete a creative work in the third stage of study and pass three final examinations with unified questions: in Estonian language and literature or in Estonian as a second language, an examination in mathematics and in one more subject on the student's choice.
A student studying according to the simplified national curriculum for basic schools shall pass school examinations for graduating from basic school.
Progression of Students
Promotion of a student to the next year, assignment of supplementary study or repeating the study year are decided by the teachers' council of the school before the end of the study period on the basis of summative grades for the entire academic year. In case a student has at least “satisfactory” annual grades, he or she will be promoted to the next year on the basis of a decision of the teachers' council. A student who has studied pursuant to the national curriculum for basic schools must also complete a creative work.
If a student’s learning outcomes are unsatisfactory in one or more subjects and the grade for the school year would be “poor” or “weak” or an equivalent oral assessment, the student will be given an assignment of supplementary learning by a decision of the teachers’ council.
In exceptional cases, a student may, on the basis of a justified decision of the teachers' council, be obliged to repeat a grade if the student has been given the grade "poor" or "weak" in at least three subjects for the full academic year, if supplementary study has not given the desired results and if it is not reasonable to follow an individual curriculum or other support systems applied at the school in order to reach the learning outcomes required by the curriculum. The teachers' council involves the student or his or her legal representative into decision-making and hears his or her opinion on the matter.
Upon a parent’s agreement, a student may be given, based on an individual curriculum, special conditions regarding progression to next year, i.e. the required time for passing a year may be made longer or shorter if necessary.
The graduates of a basic school under the national curriculum for basic schools or the simplified national curriculum for basic schools are issued basic school graduation certificate if their latest annual grades in subjects are at least “satisfactory” and they have passed final examinations with at least a satisfactory result.
The graduation certificates are issued on a special graduation certificate form with security elements approved by the Government of the Republic. The school where a student studied has the right and obligation to issue the student his or her graduation certificate. As an annex to the graduation certificate, a results report is compiled and issued together with the graduation certificate. The results report includes information on the completed curriculum and the results of its fulfilment. The results report includes the latest annual grades for compulsory and elective subjects presented numerically and verbally, also the subjects and grades of basic school final examinations taken. A graduation certificate is issued on the basis of a decision of the teachers' council.
A student who has scored at least 60 points in the final Estonian language examination in a basic school where the language of instruction is other than Estonian has the right to receive a certificate showing the proficiency level obtained in the Estonian language.
Conditions and procedure for preparing and conducting of national standard-determining tests and basic school and upper secondary school final examinations, and for compiling, assessment and preserving of examination papers, and conditions and procedure for analysing the results of national standard-determining tests, unified basic school final examinations and state examinations