Skip to main content
European Commission logo


EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Quality assurance in early childhood and school education


11.Quality assurance

11.1Quality assurance in early childhood and school education

Last update: 20 March 2024

Responsible bodies

Early childhood education and care

The Ministry of Education and Research has the overall responsibility for quality in kindergartens. The goals, purposes, and responsibilities are regulated by the Kindergarten Act and the Framework Plan for the Content and Tasks of Kindergartens.

The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training is responsible for the implementation of the national kindergarten policy and for the development of a solid knowledge base and guidance materials to support the quality work in kindergartens. The Directorate is also responsible for financial supervision of private kindergartens. 

The County Governor has a central role in achieving the main political goals concerning quality in kindergartens through guidance and inspections of the municipalities and the administration of state grants aimed at raising the kindergarten staff’s professional competencies as part of national strategic plans in the sector.

The Municipalities are responsible for kindergartens, both public and private. The local authority is responsible for the approval, supervision, and guidance of kindergartens and for ensuring that public and private kindergarten owners meet the requirements stated in the regulations.

Kindergarten owners (both public and private) are responsible for observing laws and regulations, the content of the Framework Plan and for quality development in their kindergartens.

Primary education and secondary education

The Ministry of Education and Research has the overall responsibility for quality assurance in primary and secondary education in Norway on a national level. The goals, purposes, and responsibilities are regulated by the Education Act and the Independent Schools Act with associated regulations, including the national curriculum for primary and secondary education (LK 2020) and the Sami curriculum 2020. In addition, some private schools have their own curriculum

The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training is responsible for the development and implementation of quality assessment of primary and secondary education on a national level. This includes responsibility for the Quality Assessment System (QAS). 

The Directorate for Education and Training is also responsible for conducting monitoring inspections of private schools. 

The County Governor is responsible for guidance and inspection on a local (municipal) level and on a regional (county) level.

The municipalities are responsible for primary and lower secondary education. The authority is responsible for providing supervision and guidance and for ensuring that the schools meet the requirements stated in the regulations. It is responsible for establishing a reliable quality system and for following up on the implementation of the work on quality development in education.

The counties are responsible for upper secondary schools and VET providers. The authority is responsible for establishing a reliable quality system and for following up on the implementation of the work on quality development in education and work-based learning. This also includes enterprises or agencies that run training courses for adults, training within the criminal administration system, and training at social and medical institutions. The authority approves apprenticeship places and is responsible for providing places to the apprentices. It is also responsible for ensuring that the apprentices are being followed up at the training establishment and that they pass their final trade and journeyman’s examinations/tests. . The authority must also ensure that technical managers are given the necessary training to enable them to mentor the apprentices. The quality system for vocational education and training in Norway is inspired by the European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for VET (EQAVET).

Approaches and methods for quality assurance

Early childhood education and care

In Norway, there is no external quality assurance of kindergartens. According to the Framework Plan, kindergartens are to carry out internal quality assessments. The well-being and development of the group of children and individual children shall therefore be observed and assessed on an ongoing basis. Attention must be paid to interaction amongst the children, between children and staff, and amongst the staff. The work of the kindergarten shall be assessed, i.e. described, analyzed, and interpreted, in relation to criteria set out in the Kindergarten Act, this Framework Plan, and any local guidelines and plans. Furthermore, the Framework Plan states that kindergartens are free to choose methods and scopes based on local circumstances and needs. 

The goal of all quality work in the kindergarten sector is the well-being and development of the children. The quality system for kindergartens is based on research, statistics, and different quality development tools and resources. Through the system, kindergartens, kindergarten owners, local and national authorities have access to information about the state of the kindergarten sector and access to tools for developing quality in kindergartens. The system provides information about kindergartens available to parents and other interested stakeholders and can contribute to dialogue and quality development.

As mentioned above, there are no special requirements in the Kindergarten Act or in the Framework Plan concerning external quality assurance, the use of particular methods, or compulsory use of tools. However, through the quality system, the Directorate for Education and Training offers a knowledge base, tools, supportive measures, and guides designed to help kindergartens, kindergarten owners, and local kindergarten authorities with their internal quality assessment.

The knowledge base consists of research, data, and analyses that say something about the state of the kindergarten sector and about what contributes to quality in kindergartens. Every year the Directorate for Education and Training collects data from kindergartens and carries out a mapping survey as well as other surveys that give a picture of conditions in the kindergarten sector. This data is used both nationally and locally in the assessment of the kindergarten sector. Among the voluntary tools offered in the quality system are:

The Kindergarten Parent Survey is a voluntary and free survey for parents and guardians to give their opinion on the kindergarten, the children’s wellbeing and on cooperation between home and kindergarten. From 2024 a new technical solution for the survey is put in place.  

Support materials for pedagogical documentation – a working method where the personnel and children reflect systematically upon collected documentation from the kindergarten practice.

RefLex is a tool for the local kindergarten authorities to use in self-assessment. The goal is to help ensure compliance with the Kindergarten Act and related regulations.  In addition, the County Governor use it as a tool for monitoring inspections towards the Municipality as kindergarten authority. 

Data, analyses, and research are disseminated through different channels and in different forms and for different target groups (only in Norwegian):

Barnehagefakta (Facts on Kindergartens) 

BASIL (Facts and Indicators on Kindergartens)

Statistics Dashboards (Analysebrett) for kindergartens

The Statistics Dashboards present an overview over statistics used to analyse and assess the quality of kindergartens.

Statistics bank: (indicators that can be used when assessing quality in kindergartens) 

Vetuva (Magazine for Scandinavian Research on Kindergartens)

Vetuva is an annual magazine for ECEC practitioners in Norway. Each issue contains articles about recent, high quality Scandinavian ECEC research, based on studies from the NB-ECEC database.  

The NB-ECEC database is for students, researchers, policymakers, and other stakeholders in ECEC. It includes relevant research that has been peer-reviewed by a panel of Scandinavian experts in accordance with international standards. The studies are also summarized in Scandinavian languages.

Primary education and secondary education

The primary objective of the quality assessment system in primary and secondary education, vocational education and training included, is quality development.

The quality system for VET is inspired by the recommendation on the establishment of the European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for VET. The aim is to improve the pupils’, apprentices´, and training candidates’ learning outcomes and enable them to become good citizens, pursue higher education and evolve into competent skilled workers. The system provides information about primary education and secondary education available to stakeholders and can contribute to increase dialogue and quality development.

The basis for the system is setting goals and drawing up plans nationally, on a local/county authority level, and in each school and enterprise. Furthermore, the system regards quality work as a continuous process where assessments are followed up with adjustments and new goals and where all participants should be involved and have different roles. In schools, this means pupils, parents teachers and other employees, the school management, and the school owner.

The quality areas are classified in accordance with the structure, process, and result quality. The Directorate for Education and Training has different tools to support the local work on quality. There are tools for gathering of knowledge, setting targets and finding measures and carrying out development work. Competence measures are a central part of this support.

These are the main sources of information about quality in education in the quality assessment system:

  • Mapping tests

There are compulsory mapping tests in reading for pupils at grade 3, and in numeracy for pupils at grade 3. In addition, there are voluntary mapping tests in reading skills and numeracy at grade 1. 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 digitally and a part of the national Quality Assessment system (QAS). None of the results are made public. 

Swimming skill test: As part of continuous assessment there is a compulsory skill test in swimming for pupils at grade 1–4 as a part of the continuous assessment in the subject of physical education. The purpose is to provide continuous information about the need to strengthen swimming training to ensure that the pupils are able to swim by  grade 4. The results are not made public. 

  • National tests

National tests in pupils’ basic skills are compulsory for pupils at grade 5 and grade 8 in reading (Norwegian/Sami), English, and Numeracy, and for pupils at grade 9 in reading (Norwegian/Sami) and Numeracy (same test as for grade 8). Results at a municipal level, county level and national level are made public at Results at pupil level and school level are given to the school. 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 as a part of continuous assessment. National tests are answered digitally. 

Overall achievement grades and examination marks: Every year the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training publishes overall achievement grades and examination marks from Year 10 (lower secondary school) and from upper secondary school at a school level, municipal level, county level, and national level. The results show the mean marks in selected subjects. The diagrams also show the distribution of the students across the different marks.

User Surveys are the sources of information on pupils’ and apprentice learning environment. The Pupil Survey and the Apprentice Survey allow pupils and apprentices to express their views on the learning environment in their schools and training establishments. The surveys are compulsory for schools to carry out, but voluntary for pupils and apprentices to reply to. The survey provides information for schools, municipalities, counties and national school authorities. 

The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training also provides voluntary user surveys as the Teacher Survey, the Parent Survey, and the Adult Education Survey.

International surveys

Norway participates in international comparative studies that provide us with information about trends in the pupils’ attainment over time: PISA, TIMSS, PIRLS, ICCS, ICILS, TALIS, and the Starting Strong Survey. It is compulsory for schools and pupils who are drawn to participate. The results are made public at a national level. 


Norway introduced a new approach to inspections in 2014 which combines both guidance and inspection. The County Governor´s Office carries out the inspections and publishes the inspection reports from public schools within their own county. The reports are available to the public and are used in local quality processes. The Directorate is also responsible for inspections of private schools. 

Voluntary tools

Assessment of learning materials

The Directorate for Education and Training has developed digital guidance material to support school owners, teachers, leaders and other employees in their work on assessing the quality of learning materials. The guidance material consists of knowledge base from the subjects English, Norwegian and Mathematics, with a supporting digital guide. The Digital guide is based on these subjects’ knowledge base.  The materials may be used when assessing the quality of learning materials, the school or the school owner already has access to, or to assess new learning materials to buy.

Template for The Quality Report (mal for tilstandsrapport)

In 2009 a new statute was introduced, requiring local authorities to produce an annual status report on the learning environment, learning outcomes, and completion rates. The school owner, i.e. the local council, county council or the board of directors in the case of private schools, should examine the report. The purpose of the report is to enable knowledge-based quality development and to embed this process at a political level within the municipality. provides a report template that local authorities may use at their discretion. 

The Status Analysis (Ståstedsanalysen) 

The Status Analysis for schools is an optional reflection and process tool to support the quality development in schools. Employees and leaders jointly assess, reflect and analyse the schools’ strengths and challenges, by looking into connections between the results and the practice of the school. After doing this, they are to set goals and decide on measures for further quality development work.


RefLex is an optional online tool designed to help public schools and school owners determine whether their practices are in line with the Education Act and associated regulations. In addition, the County Governor use it as a tool for monitoring inspections towards the Municipality and County Municipalities as school authority.

Statistics Dashboards (Analysebrett)

The Statistics Dashboards present an overview over statistics used to analyse and assess the quality of kindergartens and schools. In the dashboards, statistics from kindergartens, schools, municipalities, and counties can be compared over time. The statistics dashboards for primary, lower secondary and upper secondary education, including Initial VET are found here: 

The statistics dashboards provide an overview over key indicators, and it is possible to make selections and comparisons.

National research 

A number of external research-based evaluations of various national initiatives are published every year on the website

Locally developed tools and resources

In addition to the mandatory tests and surveys, some local and county authorities have chosen to develop their own quality assessment tools, such as local tests and surveys, mandatory only for their own schools.

Competence resource packages that are used by both kindergartens, primary and secondary education and training

Competence resource packages (kompetansepakker)

The Directorate for Education and Training has developed Competence resources in packages within different themes. Common for the resources is that they are made to give support for developing competence and practice in kindergarten, schools, the pedagogical-psychological service, training enterprises and examination boards. The resources are found here

The competence resources are made so that it is possible to work together in schools and enterprises over time. The Competence resources have process and leadership support, and the content is intended to be used in kindergarten-based or school-based competence development. The content is to be adapted locally in line with local needs. The resources are to be used by colleagues together but may also be used in teams or at certain grade levels. A set of competence resources consists of modules. The competence resource packages are open for everyone. There are no limits on participants per set of resource