General information on pupil assessment (Schülerbeurteilung), on comparative examinations or comparative performance tests and on assessment instruments geared to support in compulsory education may be found in the comments on the primary level.
Pupils usually receive a graded school report card twice a year. The grades range from 1 to 6 (6 = best grade; 4 = satisfactory; below 4 = unsatisfactory). In addition to the report card there is usually an appraisal interview with the pupil and the parents or legal guardians. Written learning reports are rarely used.
To give school leavers the best possible preparation for starting vocational education and training (VET) or an upper secondary level general education school, various cantons have taken appropriate measures in the final years of the lower secondary level. For instance, in the second-last year of the lower secondary level an overview of pupils’ school strengths and weakness may be undertaken (Standortbestimmungen). This allows pupils in the final year of the lower secondary level to be promoted through targeted individual measures, thus building on their skills and remedying learning deficits. Project work and final papers or portfolios with a personal performance profile may also be used. These instruments help training companies to better assess the aptitudes of young people applying for an apprenticeship, inter alia.
Progression of pupils/students
The cantons are responsible for regulating transfer to the next grade (Versetzung) and the conditions for repeating a grade in their education acts. As a rule, a decision is made at the end of each school year as to whether, based on their performance, pupils can be transferred to the next grade. Assessment of performance at school is used as the basis for provisional or definitive transfer to the next grade. If a report is insufficient, the pupil usually transfers on a provisional basis. If the next report is also insufficient, the pupil does not transfer to the next higher grade. The pupil can repeat the grade previously attended, or continue into the next grade in a lower-level school type or lower performance level group. If pupils perform extremely well, they can usually also transfer to a higher school type or performance level group.
In most cases parents or legal guardians are consulted in the decision on transfer to the next grade. Pupils may also be involved. The school administration or teaching staff/the teachers’ meeting are usually responsible for the final decision on transfer. As well as repeating a grade, the provision of special education measures is another possibility.
There is no national final school examination in compulsory education, and hence there is no corresponding nationwide school leaving certificate either. A few cantons carry out a final examination in the core subjects at the end of lower secondary education, sometimes only in individual school types or performance level groups.
In an attempt to optimise the transition from lower to upper secondary level, some cantons introduced a leaving certificate at the end of compulsory schooling. This is intended to be indicative and is not used for selective purposes: the leaving certificate does not automatically entitle holders to enter the next stage of schooling, i.e. the post-compulsory upper secondary school types. The intention is that the subsequent institutions of vocational education and training (VET) and schools at upper secondary level receive comparable information about the abilities of individual pupils, while at the same time maintaining motivation in the final year of compulsory education.
In a few cantons adults who have not graduated from lower secondary education can catch up on it.