1. Responsible Bodies
The State has overall responsibility for supervision, follow-up and evaluation of the education system in Sweden. State regulations concerning the evaluation of the education system, including preschool (förskola), school-age childcare (skolbarnsomsorg) and the preschool class (förskoleklass) are set out in the Education Act (Skollagen, 2010:800), and in a number of ordinances. As from July 2011 a new Education Act came into force. The central authorities carry out the national evaluation of educational institutions in their respective areas of responsibility. The school system is goal-based with a high degree of local responsibility. The main responsibility for education lies with the municipalities and authorities responsible for grant-aided independent schools. Various steering documents are used to steer activities: school curriculum, course syllabi, etc. drawn up at different levels within the school system. It is the task of the Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket) to work actively for the achievement of these goals.
The Swedish National Agency for Education
The Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket) monitors, follows up and evaluates activities in the entire public school system including adult education. Data is presented at different levels, from aggregate figures at national level, county and municipal level, as well as to the specific school level for some figures.
The agency is also responsible for distributing and evaluating government grants for the achievement of goal fulfillment and for guaranteeing quality. The agency support preschools (förskolor) and schools in their development, the support may be provided for general development needs identified as shortcomings or problems in national or international surveys in areas such as mathematics, languages and reading and writing. The government determines the goals, guidelines and distribution of resources for the central authorities through appropriations and regulatory letters. The curricula stresses the importance of developing methods for evaluation that are clearly related to the goals for the activities and that contribute to pedagogical development.
The Swedish Schools Inspectorate
The Swedish Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen) is responsible for the national inspection and evaluation of the school system (preschools and schools) and ensures that local authorities and grant-aided independent schools (friskolor) follow laws and regulations. The Swedish Schools Inspectorate is the central agency responsible for preschool, the welfare of schoolchildren, schools management and adult education (kommunal vuxenutbildning), and the aim of the Agency is to ensure the equal right of all children to good education in a safe environment. The Swedish Schools Inspectorate conducts regular supervision of all schools. It can also initiate investigation of a specific school, or investigate complaints from pupils, parents or other person. An investigation of a school or institution may lead to an official reprimand from the Inspectorate to the responsible authority and a demand for action.
The Swedish Schools Inspectorate ensures that the responsible authority, that is to say the municipality or management of an grant-aided independent school, or preschool, follows laws and regulations, which apply to that school or preschool. Regular supervision of schools leads to demands for action from the responsible authority when necessary. In the case of independent schools lack of action by the school may result in the withdrawal of the license to operate or entitlement to subsidies.
The Swedish Schools Inspectorate is also responsible for granting licenses to new grant-aided independent schools (friskolor). Furthermore, it decides on applications for entitlement to subsidies and also monitors national supervision of upper secondary schools (gymnasieskolor). The Swedish Schools Inspectorate follows up applications by visiting new schools immediately after they are opened.
Municipalities are responsible for planning and running preschools and schools. They are also expected to inspect, follow up and evaluate them on a continuous basis and through annual follow-up and evaluation measures. The follow-up is often based on administrative and economic reports. Factors examined are expansion, use and allocation of resources and quality.
Schools are responsible for following up and evaluating its activities, whilst the municipalities are responsible for following up and evaluating schools in the municipality. Each school organizer should have a work plan for its activity and should each year prepare a report on how these plans are implemented as well as an annual quality report. The report should assess the extent to which education achieves the goals set up by the state and proposals for necessary changes if the goals are not met. In the individual school, the school head is responsible for the way in which the internal self-evaluation is carried out.
2. Approaches and Methods for Quality Assurance
Evaluation of schools
Skolverket (The Swedish National Agency for Education)
The municipalities themselves are responsible for the organisation and implementation of evaluation locally, which leads to variations in how the evaluation is carried out. Methods for internal evaluation vary between educational institutions. Work in preschool and school should be planned, implemented, evaluated and developed in relation to the goals set up in the curriculum. The general objective of the internal evaluation of preschools and schools is to ensure that the curriculum is being followed. In addition a quality assessment is made on basis of the general guidelines from the Swedish National Agency for Education.
Evaluation may be carried out by an independent external investigator and/or by the personnel or management of the school in consultation with parents and children. The general objective of the evaluation of schools is to report goal attainment and measures planned for increasing goal attainment. In accordance with an ordinance on quality reporting in the school, each school submits a quality report to its principal organiser. The principal organiser then establishes quality reporting for all school units. The Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket) has drawn up general guidelines on quality reporting in schools and preschools. The school head, who is responsible for the evaluation, locally determines who will carry out the evaluation. Teachers, other staff and pupils participate in drawing up the quality reports. Pupils' parents and guardians can also take part in the work.
A quality assessment permits the Swedish Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen) to delve deeply into particular areas. This may concern a school subject such as mathematics, or a more general area such as the preschool- or school situation for the reception of new pupils. For each quality assessment the Inspectorate evaluates the activities of a number of schools. Judgments are based on the school’s steering documents as well as on research and proven experience. The Inspectorate can demand action if it discovers shortcomings and can submit recommendations for further developments. The Inspectorate can also highlight good practice, where schools have succeeded particularly well within the area under inspection.
Evaluation of the education system
The Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket) is responsible for Swedish participation in international knowledge assessments. The purpose is to examine how Swedish students fare in comparison with those from other countries, and how the national goals for education in Sweden compare to education in other countries. The results from international comparative studies help to form a basis for analysing variations in different education systems, and Sweden also takes part in international surveys, such as PISA, ICCS, ESLC, TIMSS, TIMSS Advanced and PIRLS.
The Swedish National Agency for Education collects data regularly from the municipalities on preschool (förskola), child care for school children (skolbarnomsorg), schools and adult education (kommunal vuxenutbildning), and through these data gathers fundamental knowledge on these institutions. The statistics are then used by municipalities in their planning, and as a basis for governmental and parliamentary planning and decisions. Another purpose of the statistics and in-depth studies is to provide a basis for comparison and to encourage debate, locally and nationally, on how to better achieve the goals set for school and pre-school and child care for school children. The statistics and analyses are available on the web site of the National Agency for Education where the SIRIS system presents much of the data on individual school level, in order for students, teachers and parents to follow local development. In order for the Agency to gain a more nuanced picture, they make in-depth analyses of the statistics. Regular polling of public, parental, student and teacher attitudes toward education is also carried out as a part of the national follow-up.
Statistical data and quality reports from schools and municipalities are gathered on an annual basis. Statistics Sweden (the central government authority for official statistics) is commissioned by the Swedish National Agency for Education to collect large quantities of data, which is then processed by the Swedish National Agency for Education and published in annual reports. Data is available on exam results, grades in compulsory schools grundskolor, statistics on pupils, list of all schools, teachers and education staff as well as on education costs. Key indicators such as pupil/teacher ratio, school resources, social background etc., are also available. The generation of statistics has increased in recent years due to a rising interest on the part of the media, municipalities and the general public for school results.
The Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket) is responsible for the national test system. This involves producing and developing subject testing and diagnostic materials in cooperation with Higher Education Institutions for compulsory school, and other corresponding school forms, and national tests for upper secondary and adult education courses. Testing is a tool to support teachers in assessing and enable consistency in grading, and also important for clarifying what is stated in national course goals and grading criteria. The results of the national examinations also enable the Swedish National Agency for Education to describe, analyse and assess the results of different student groups in order to concentrate on areas of knowledge where support measures are needed. Nationally set tests are made by puils in the 3rd, 6th and 9th year in the compulsory school.
The national tests measure and describe pupils' knowledge, skills and results achieved. They also provide a basis for evaluation of school results. School leaving certificates and the results from national tests are also collected for pupils in upper secondary school. The Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen) offers sample test corrections of the national tests taken by pupils in compulsory and upper secondary education, to ensure equality in the test results nationwide. There are no exams in compulsory school or upper-secondary schools. From the compulsory school the pupils receive a school leaving certificate with grades in all subjects they have taken, and from upper-secondary school the students receive a similar document with grades for all subject courses they have completed during their upper secondary schooling.
For information on the assessment of pupils see 5.3. Assessment in Single Structure Education and for secondary education see 6.3. Assessment in Upper General and Vocational Secondary Education.
For information on the evaluation of teacher training see 9.1.5. Qualifications, Evaluation and Certificates.
The Swedish Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen)
The Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket)
The Education Act (Skollagen, SFS 2010:800)