NOU 2016: 14

More to gain — Better learning for students with higher learning potential

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8 Financial, administrative and other consequences

The mandate instructs the Committee to examine the recommendations and financial consequences of the proposed measures, in addition to other matters dealt with in the chapters above:

“The Committee must assess facts and background, and propose concrete measures so that more students can perform on high and advanced levels in primary and secondary education and training and so that high achieving students have better instruction in school. The Committee must assess and propose recommendations relating to how a varied and differentiated teaching programme for high achieving students can be provided within the regular school, but also assess special educational measures especially targeting the group or individual students. The Committee must assess organisational, educational, didactic, social, legal and financial aspects. [..] At least one of the Committee's recommendations must be financially viable within today's funding framework.”

The Committee has analysed the recommendations and assessed which measures will impact the objective in the mandate to the greatest possible degree. The Committee finds that the recommendations are interrelated and that all in all they will provide better differentiated instruction for students with higher learning potential.

Basically, the schools must provide differentiated instruction to all students – including those with higher learning potential – and the goal in the mandate may therefore be considered a requirement that can be directly addressed to school owners with respect to realising this within today's administrative and financial framework. The Committee sees, however, the need for measures in the short and long term to increase knowledge about this group of students, and to increase the competence of school owners, school leaders, teachers and PPS employees. The need for competence development relating to students with higher learning potential and how to differentiate instruction for them, is a consistent need, one that has also been clearly stated to the Committee by all the stakeholders. There is a need to change practices in the schools.

The conditions for ensuring better instruction for students with higher learning potential, as formulated in this report, require that the national authorities prioritise this issue, provide examples of practice, clarify the options that are available to the stakeholders and stimulate cooperation between research environments, teacher training institutions and schools. This requires financial and administrative resources.

In the assessment of possible consequences, the Committee points out that the consequences are greater if measures are not implemented for students with higher learning potential. The negative consequences of not changing the instruction to satisfy the needs of students with higher learning potential are comprehensive and acute for the individual student and society.

8.1 Overarching review of financial consequences

The Committee's recommendations do not primarily refer to the need for more funding. A number of the Committee's recommendations will, nonetheless, when seen in isolation, introduce the need for increased funding. The assessment finds, however, that substantial synergies can be achieved in the total resource use, so that the total costs may be kept within the current financial framework. The Committee's task, however, did not include the provision of a complete plan for implementing the recommendations. Accordingly, the Committee does not provide detailed estimates or propose funding possibilities in connection with all the recommendations.

Primarily, the degree of ambition and the scope of the measures that the authorities decide to implement will determine the size of the cost framework.

We have chosen to divide the recommendations into two different lists. The first list comprises the measures we believe may be realised within today's resource framework. The second list comprises measures which will require extra funding to be implemented.

8.1.1 Recommended measures which can be implemented within today's resource framework

The national authorities:

  • Amend section 1-3 of the Education Act to clarify that the legal provision also includes students with higher learning potential.

  • Clarify the options available to school leaders, school owners and County Governors in the current rules, for example through national competence development measures, such as Regelverk i praksis [Rules in practice] and RefLex.

  • Ensure that the progression descriptors in the guidelines for the subject curricula provide examples of competence on high and advanced levels and support the teacher's work to differentiate the instruction for students with higher learning potential. The descriptors must be developed in conjunction with the subject renewal in the Knowledge Promotion curriculum.

  • Concentrate resources on research dedicated to this student group. Critical factors are strong research environments and a stronger link between research, teacher training institutions and school to influence practice in the classroom.

  • Ensure that research is coordinated and presented to the sector.

  • Assess measures to ensure that school owners cooperate with and take responsibility for procedures for skipping a year/moving the students in question ahead.

  • Ensure that differentiated instruction for students with higher learning potential is included as a topic in national projects and guidance material.

  • Ensure that differentiated instruction for students with higher learning potential is included in:

    • School-leader training, teacher training and education of special-needs teaching, and education for the PPS

    • Further education and continuing professional development (CPD)

The school owners:

  • Build capacity in individual schools and between schools so that work is systematically undertaken to follow up the students' learning.

  • Take responsibility for ensuring that schools and the PPS have competence in and resources for identifying students with higher learning potential and differentiate the instruction for them.

The school leaders:

  • Use existing research and facilitate for flexible organisation of students with higher learning potential.

Teachers:

  • Apply research-based knowledge and vary teaching methods, for example through in-depth learning and enrichment.

8.1.2 Recommended measures which may require extra funds to be implemented

Research environments:

  • Carry out high quality research on students with higher learning potential in close connection and cooperation with teacher training institutions and schools.

The national authorities:

  • Ensure that digital learning resources are developed for students to provide better in-depth learning in all subjects.

  • Ensure development and use of an e-learning module for schools and the PPS and increase competence about students with higher learning potential.

  • Assess expanding the teacher specialist programme to include knowledge about students with higher learning potential.

  • Develop knowledge-based mapping and guidance material for identifying purposes and for proposing didactic techniques in subjects for schools, the local authorities and the PPS.

  • Ensure that competence programmes for the PPS and special-needs teaching institutions are developed on the learning difficulties of children and young persons with higher learning potential.

  • Systematically map and evaluate effects of measures for students with higher learning potential every four years.

8.1.3 The Committee's assessment of the financial and administrative consequences of the measures

Below the Committee will give expense estimates for some of the recommendations we believe can be initiated quickly. We remind readers that the size of the expenses is dependent on the ambition level.

Development of knowledge-based mapping and guidance material for identifying and proposing didactic techniques for the subjects should be assigned to the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training, which in turn will involve the national centres and relevant research environments. The Committee sees that in the development of didactic techniques it may be best to start with a number of subjects, such as English, mathematics, natural science, Norwegian and social studies. In following up the Report to the Storting no. 28 (2015–2016) resources should be developed which clarify and exemplify how the revised subject curricula can realise progression for students with higher learning potential. The Committee estimates costs at NOK 5 million in 2017.

Development of an e-learning module for teachers to raise competence on students with higher learning potential should be assigned to the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training. The directorate must ensure the quality of the module, and that the educational and technology environments can work together to develop training modules that can be used by schools and the PPS across the entire country. The Committee believes that the module should be based on experiences from school-based MOOC1, where the point of departure is that all the staff should use e-learning in their development activities. The Committee finds that a reasonable cost estimate is NOK 20 million in 2017.

Concentrating resources on research focusing on students with higher learning potential refers to the concentration of resources on research environments able to design research that will be the impetus for significant changes in the practice in school. The Committee finds that it is extremely important how the research environments interact with the practice field before, during and after the research. The research must be perceived as relevant for school leaders and teachers, and results and findings must be made available to the schools. The national authorities should ensure that the research projects are coordinated so they can benefit schools and students across Norway. Research funding will have to be granted and there will be some administration resources. The Committee does not set a cost estimate for this as it depends on the ambition level.

Developing digital learning resources for students which, for example, provides in-depth learning in all subjects may be assigned to the Centre for ICT in Education or the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training, which in turn must involve the relevant environments. The Committee believes it is important to use experiences from Den virtuelle matematikkskolen [the VirtualMathematics School] and extend this to additional subjects. The Committee does not set a cost estimate here as it depends on the ambition level.

8.2 Summary and priorities

In the introduction to the report the Committee presented three systemic acknowledgments, and this report is intended to give direction to what should be done to change today's situation for students with higher learning potential as formulated in these acknowledgements, cf. Chapter 1. We have made a number of recommendations to ensure that more students will achieve on a high and advanced level, and so that students with higher learning potential will have a better everyday experience in school and thus be able to realise their potential. We consider all the recommended measures to be important, and they must be considered holistically, but we also find some measures more important than others. There are long-term and short-term measures, as shown in the report, and some will be more complex and harder to realise than others. Common to all the recommendations is that they support the main idea that differentiated instruction, excellent learning environments and collective professional development are what is needed to satisfy the goals for students with higher learning potential.

The Committee particularly wants to point out the recommendations for raising the knowledge level of teachers and the PPS. This will satisfy a great need, and the Committee believes that knowledge influences attitudes and cultures in schools. The most important element is that teachers have competence in differentiating the instruction and always have the student's learning as their point of departure for planning, implementing and evaluating their teaching.

What then should be going on in the Norwegian classrooms after the recommendations in the report have been implemented? Will we be able to see the effects of this report in ten years? It would of course have been ideal to produce an itemised recipe for how more students can achieve on high and advanced levels, and how students with higher learning potential may have a better school experience, in addition to supplying a set of accompanying descriptors for evaluating whether the measures have yielded the intended result. Such a recipe with its accompanying measuring tools does not exist. In the end, the answer is not about isolated measures alone, but rather about quality in all parts of the instruction. It is about creating and developing a culture for learning. Various factors influence student development, and it is difficult to distinguish these factors from each other to ensure that what is measured actually supplies answers to the questions that have been asked. It is challenging to measure cultural changes. The Committee recommends that every four years the national authorities systematically map and evaluate the effects of measures for students with higher learning potential.

Various sources, such as the Student Survey, examination results, national tests, the Parent Survey and international studies, together with the insights of each school into the students' learning, will provide important information that we will need to assess when determining if we have satisfied the goals.

Footnotes

1.

The national project Vurdering for læring [Assessment for learning] has developed and offers a school-based MOOC (Massive Open Online Course).

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