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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Quality assurance


11.Quality assurance

Last update: 27 November 2023
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Quality Assurance

The Ministry of Education, Science and Culture is responsible for the evaluation and monitoring of educational institutions in the educational system in Iceland. 

External evaluation is organised by the Ministry and can include evaluation of schools/institutions, evaluation of internal evaluation methods or other defined parts of school activities. Since the establishment of the Directorate of Education, most aspects of the process belong under the auspice of Directorate. At pre-primary and compulsory school levels, the municipalities are, by law since 2008, responsible for their own evaluation of schools and school activities. 

Laws on pre-primarycompulsory and upper secondary education stipulate that the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture is to conduct comprehensive external evaluation at these school levels with the Directorate of Education. The rationale for this was to gather reliable information concerning factors such as quality control in operating schools, the educational achievement and careers of pupils, teaching practices and their impact on educational achievement, communication within schools, and relationships with parties outside schools. Provisions for quality control of teaching and research in higher education were laid down in the Higher Education Act of 2006. The monitoring, evaluation and quality assurance in adult education is explained in the Act on Adult Education.

Every three years, the Minister of Education, Science and Culture is to deliver comprehensive reports to the Parliament on pre-primary, compulsory and upper secondary education. The reports explain schools' operation and activities, based on systematically gathered information, evaluation and research (both national and international). 

Since 2000, Iceland has taken part in the OECD PISA studies and since 2009 in the TALIS study. Iceland also participates on a regular basis in OECD work on developing student-achievement indicators. The Icelandic educational system has been regularly reviewed by OECD experts. 

All pupils in compulsory grades 4, 7 and 9 undergo national examinations in Icelandic and mathematics and in grade 9 in English in addition.  

The purpose of these examinations is to monitor to what extent the National Curriculum Guides are fulfilled in the Icelandic educational system, guide teachers and schools regarding the individual students teaching, provide information of individual students’ educational achievement for students, parents and schools and provide information for schools and school districts regarding the educational achievement in individual schools. These examinations are prepared, graded and organised by the Directorate of Education. The results of the national co-ordinated examinations are distributed, i.e. pupils receive their own marks and the mean figures are distributed to the public for each examination at every compulsory school in the country where pupils in that grade in the school are more than ten, as well as for each region and region wide. 

The journeyman's examination for the skilled trades is the only nationally co-ordinated examination at the upper secondary school level. Under the Upper Secondary School Act, the Minister of Education, Science and Culture may decide to set nationally co-ordinated examinations in individual upper secondary school subjects.  

Laws on the four levels of education, pre-primary, compulsory, upper secondary and higher education level all highlight the importance of systematic internal evaluation to measure and improve quality. Each school or institution is required to systematically evaluate internal activities with active participation of staff, students, pupils and parents as relevant. They are to publish information on the internal evaluation, compliance with the school curriculum guide and plans for improvement. 

Education and training providers in adult education need to carry out a systematic internal evaluation of the quality of their activities and publish information about their quality control and plans for improvement.