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 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: the Knowledge Promotion.
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 County Governoris responsible for guidance and inspection on a local (municipal) level and on a regional level (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 apprenteiceship 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 apprenticeship examinations. 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 Status Analysis (Ståstedsanalysen) is a reflection and process tool for kindergartens. It combines data from BASIL and other sources of knowledge – e.g. kindergarten parent surveys – with the staff’s assessment of the kindergarten’s pedagogical practices. Based on this internal evaluation, the kindergarten chooses and prioritizes goals and measures for further quality work in the kindergarten.
The Kindergarten Parent Survey is available – on a voluntary basis – to all kindergartens from November 2016. The survey will be conducted annually.
Support materials for external kindergarten evaluation. The method described in the support materials underlines that the evaluation should be carried out by peers from other kindergartens, and it builds on the Status Analysis.
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 self-assessment tool for the local kindergarten authorities. The goal is to help ensure compliance with the Kindergarten Act and related regulations.
Children's well-being – adults' responsibility. Preventing bullying in kindergarten (pdf) – a guide for kindergarten staff.
Language in kindergarten – much more than just talk (pdf-norwegian) – a guide for kindergarten staff.
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)
Barnehagespeilet (Kindergarten Mirror) (pdf-norwegian)
BASIL (Facts and Indicators on Kindergartens)
Vetuva (Magazine for Scandinavian Research on Kindergartens)
Primary education and secondary education
The primary objective of the quality system in primary and secondary education, vocational education and training included, is a 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 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 parents, pupils, teachers, the school management, and the school owner.
The quality areas are classified in accordance with the structure, process, and result quality. These are the main sources of information about quality in education:
The School Portal (Skoleporten)
The School Portal presents data on a school/municipal/county/national level, grouped into five key areas: Learning outcomes, learning environment, completion of upper secondary education and training, resources, and school facts. Data is used for quality development by all the responsible bodies but in different ways and to varying degrees of detail depending on the body.
Sources for data on learning outcomes in skoleporten.no are examination results and results from national tests:
Examination results: Every year the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training publishes examination results 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 grades in selected subjects. The diagrams also show the distribution of the students across the different grades.
National tests: 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 www.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.
Mapping tests: In addition, there are voluntary mapping tests in numbers and arithmetic skills at grade 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. See also chapter 5.3 Assessment.
Other voluntary tests: The purpose of the voluntary tests is to provide support to schools, and they should help teachers assess their pupils. Some of them test academic performance and can be used for both formative and summative assessment, while others test the pupils’ skills and are primarily intended for formative assessment. The tests allow schools to compare themselves with the national average.
The results from the voluntary tests are not aggregated and published, and the tests are intended to support individual pupils, their teachers, and the quality processes at the school.
User Surveys are the sources of data on the 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 provide important information for all the responsible bodies. These surveys are mandatory. In addition, there are user surveys that are voluntary, such as the Teacher Survey, the Parent Survey, and the Adult Education Survey.
International surveys and national research
Norway participates in international comparative studies that provide us with information about trends in the pupils’ attainment over time: PISA, TIMSS, TIMSS Advanced, PIRLS, ICCS, ICILS, TALIS, and the Starting Strong Survey. A number of external research-based evaluations of various national initiatives are published every year on the website udir.no.
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 Quality Report (Tilstandsrapporten)
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. The School Portal provides a report template that local authorities may use at their discretion.
The Status Analysis (Ståstedsanalysen)
The Status Analysis has been developed for use in school-based assessment. The aim is to encourage joint reflection and discussion on the school’s practices and on which quality areas the school wishes to give priority to. There are two versions of the report – one for primary and lower secondary schools and one for upper secondary schools. The Status Analysis is an optional tool.
RefLex is an online tool designed to help public schools and school owners determine whether their practices are in line with the Education Act and associated regulations.
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.