The current approach to pupil assessment in subjects is based on the objective of both promoting learning and expressing the competence of each pupil continuously during the studies and at the end of the teaching in the subject (cf. chapter 3 of the regulations for the Education Act). The pupil’s right to assessment means both a right to formative (continuous) assessment and final assessment and a right to the documentation of the education. Assessments will be made only without marks at the primary level (until the end of year 7). Starting at year 8 and in upper secondary school, pupils are also given a mark. The terms "formative assessment" and "final assessment" distinguish between a continuous assessment during the education and an assessment given at the end of lower secondary school and at the completion of subjects in upper secondary education. Pursuant to the Education Act, pupils shall be assessed in the school subjects and order and conduct. In addition to this, teachers should have frequent dialogue with the pupils on their academic development based on the provisions in sections 1-1 of the Education Act, the core curriculum, and the Quality Framework in the National Curriculum.
By means of various forms of assessment, pupils' learning and the instruction provided by schools are to be viewed in relation to the objectives, the contents, and the principles of the national curriculum. Assessment must relate to and provide a basis for guidance and be a pointer to the further learning and development of the pupils. Assessment should inspire teachers to think through, plan, and improve their teaching. In addition to this, it should provide a source of information for other educational institutions and for employers about the competence pupils have acquired on the completion of their school education.
The main purpose of pupil assessment is to promote learning and development. The assessment gives pupils, parents, and teachers feedback on pupils' progress, on educational processes, and their results. Assessment must be designed to enable pupils to consider their own work and progress, motivating them to work and use their abilities.
In recent years, there has been a development in Norwegian schools in favor of putting greater emphasis on continuous and formative assessment. Individual assessment without marks is part of the day-to-day learning process and is included in the regular planned conferences between teachers, pupils, and parents or guardians. Using the objectives in the national curriculum as a frame of reference, assessment should emphasise individual aptitudes, learning processes, and results. Individual advice must be given to pupils on how they should work in the future.
Formative assessment is understood as both assessment of learning and assessment for learning and covers such areas as:
Formative assessment in the classroom in form of continuous feedback to the student.
Follow-up of results from different types of tests, i.e. national tests and mapping tests.
Six-month evaluations: Students shall be given six-month evaluations for each subject and for order and conduct, i.e. twice during the school year.
Self-assessment: The students’ self-assessment is a part of the formative assessment. The regulations establish that the student shall participate actively in the assessment of his or her own work, own competence, and own academic development.
The final assessment comprises overall achievement and the examination and is made at the end of compulsory education.
Overall achievement marks in subjects for years when marks are awarded, starting with year 8, are set by the teacher when teaching in subjects is completed and are entered on the students' school leaving certificates. Overall achievement marks shall be based on broad assessment grounds that as a whole show the competence the student has achieved in the subject.
Assessment at the primary stage (grades 1-7) does not involve the awarding of marks. At the lower secondary stage (grades 8-10), a system of marks is introduced as part of the ongoing assessment and as a part of the final assessment. Ongoing assessment should be seen in conjunction with final assessment, which provides information about the achievement of the pupil after the conclusion of teaching in the subject. These marks have the objectives and contents of the subject curricula as their starting point. A numerical marking system on a 6-to-1 scale has been introduced, 6 being the top mark and 1 the lowest.
At the end of grade 10, national examinations are conducted. Pupils are required to take a centrally set written examination in one of three subjects: Norwegian, Mathematics, Sami, or English. Every year it is decided locally which groups of students will take each of the four subjects. Pupils are told only a few days before the examination what will be their subject. The national exams are marked externally. Exams are compulsory except for pupils with individual teaching programs, for whom it is up to the parents to decide. Pupils in independent schools based on Rudolph Steiner's pedagogical principles are exempted from national exams.
Most pupils will also have to sit an oral examination, which is organised locally. The oral examination may be in any of the school subjects, except Arts and Crafts, Home Economics, and Physical Education. In those subjects where the pupils have not taken an examination, the final mark is given on the basis of the teacher’s assessment of the pupil throughout the year.
National tests in pupils’ basic skills are compulsory for pupils at grade 5 and grade 8 in reading, English, and Mathematics, and for pupils at grade 9 in reading and Mathematics (same test as for grade 8). The tests are part of the National Quality Assessment system (NQAS) where results from schools are made public at udir.no. The main purpose of the national tests is to collect information about pupils’ basic skills and to be tools for improvement and development activities locally and centrally. Results from national tests provide the teacher with a starting point for adapting the teaching to the individual pupil. National tests are answered digitally.
There are compulsory mapping tests in reading skills for pupils at grade 1, 2, and 3, and in numbers and arithmetic skills for pupils at grade 2. In addition, there are voluntary mapping tests in numbers and arithmetic skills at grades 1 and 3, and in English (reading and listening) for pupils at grade 3. The purpose of the mapping tests is for teachers and schools to identify which pupils may need additional follow up and adaptation. These tests are answered on paper except English at grade 3 which is digital.
National tests and mapping tests are currently developed to conform with the new curricula for primary and secondary education (Reform LK20) which were put into effect from the school year 2020/21.
Progression of pupils
Pupils progress automatically to the next grade at the end of a school year throughout compulsory education. Pupils in difficulty may receive additional educational support.
After completing compulsory lower secondary education, all young people between the ages of 16 to 19 are entitled to three years of upper secondary education.
Upon leaving school, all pupils receive a certificate indicating subjects and final assessment comprising overall achievement and examination. The marks are used as one of the more important criteria for further education at the upper secondary level, i.e. when it comes to selecting a program of study and being admitted into a chosen school.