Tale/innlegg | Dato: 16.04.2013
Åpning av internasjonal konferanse om OECD-prosjektet Review on Evaluation and Assessment Frameworks for improving School Outcome 11.april Holmenkollen Park Hotel Rica, Oslo.
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International conference to discuss the results of the OECD Review on Evaluation and Assessment Frameworks for improving School Outcomes
Dear participants! Dear all!
It is an honour and pleasure for me to welcome you all to this conference where the aim is to discuss the results of the OECD Review on Evaluation and Assessment Frameworks for improving School Outcomes!
I’m happy to see that almost 120 participants from different OECD countries have signed up for the conference. All relevant policy makers and stakeholders are present. We’ve got regional and municipal education authorities, assessment agencies, teachers and parents´ organisations, teacher educators and researchers. The expertise you all together possess guarantees that the discussions at this conference will be interesting. Altogether 28 countries have been participating in the project. In itself the broad participation of so many countries with diverse systems and traditions, strengthens the conclusions of the project. I would like to use this opportunity to thank the OECD for your contribution in making this conference possible – you have put together a very interesting programme with highly competent key note speakers.
An important reason for Norway to be involved in international research is to keep an eye on the educational quality and how the pupils benefit from the teaching we offer in Norwegian schools. We are fully aware that the test results we get in exchange will never tell us the whole truth about our schools - not in Norway, nor in other countries. And neither when the results are improving, nor getting worse. But they do serve as useful indicators of how Norwegian students perform on some key skills they are learning in school.
When I served as the Minister of Finance, I received delegations from abroad which came to learn about what we often refer to as The Norwegian Model. They wondered how we succeeded so well in creating small differences between people, the high degree of gender equality and generally a high quality of life.
I find it obvious that Norwegian schools should take much credit for this. Our schools have a broad mandate, and will not only teach our youngsters math, reading and writing, but put just as much weight on skills such as creativity, teamwork, how to think and reflect critically, and how to become active participants in society.
Let me say a few words about the study - which is the reason why we are here. What is striking is that evaluation is expanding and becoming more diverse. Countries have different traditions in evaluation and assessment and take different approaches. Nevertheless, analysing all these different approaches, I think that OECD has managed to describe important trends in this study: Some common challenges are pointed at, and the report give us useful advice on how we can meet them.
That is quite an effort in such a complex field. I want to express my gratitude to OECD for conducting this high quality work. I am sure that the participating countries will find the support they need for further development in the results.
The study gives an interesting overview of the development in the field of evaluation and assessment, and there will be plenty of opportunities throughout the conference for you as experts in the field to discuss the results in detail as well as principal matters such as driving forces, challenges and trends.
The main purpose of the assessment system must be improvement of learning outcomes – that is achievement of the broad goals of education as stated in the Education Act and the Curriculum.
Still, no matter what system our country follow, we need to remind ourselves that at the core of evaluation we find the relationship and the direct dialogue between the pupil and its teacher. An ongoing and trustful dialogue is the most important source for evaluation.
I think we all know that to improve our work we need feedback that tells us more than simply whether we are good, or less good at something. We all need to know how and in what ways we do well. We need help to seek and find our own individual path to improvement.
I have been very clear in stating my view that the results from national and international tests should not be used (or misused) as a mean for unfortunate ranking and competition between schools and school districts. It is a resource to gain insight on how we work and how to improve our work locally.
Legitimacy and trust are key concepts regarding assessment and evaluation. It is necessary that all stakeholders, and above all the teachers, trust the system and see it as useful and relevant to their work in the classroom.
We also need to be aware of the administrative burden that follows evaluation and assessment. The teachers’ time is a limited resource. It is of great importance that we find the right balance between the number of assessments and evaluations introduced and the valuable time spent on teaching.
I would like to honour the OECD for being very clear in stating that the purpose of evaluation and assessment is to improve classroom practice and student learning - and also pointing at the importance of avoiding adverse behaviour as a result of use of accountability measures.
Our aim must be to raise the awareness of the complexity of evaluation and assessment and to choose carefully components that give meaning in a national context. For instance appraisal of teachers and school leaders is not included in the Norwegian system.
This does not mean that the topic should be excluded in future discussions. The TALIS study has shown that the culture for feedback in Norwegian schools has been weak, from the headmaster to the teachers and from the teachers to the pupils.
We want to change this, but we also realise that this is a long term development work. The process will have to include all stakeholders. We will have to listen to the experience of other countries and do some careful thinking about the matter.
As a principle in coming discussions I will emphasise the importance of support for professional development more than the accountability aspect.
Assessment and evaluation is fundamental to the education system, at all levels. In 1988 in a review of the Norwegian Education System, the OECD concluded that we didn’t have any good mechanisms for control and evaluation in the Norwegian education System. We had already participated in one of the first international assessments of learning outcomes in science in the beginning of the 1980’s and continued with participation in TIMSS and other studies in the 1990ties.
Together with our own evaluation of Reform -97, PISA 2000 was an important input to our educational system. Until then we had been quite confident that we had one of the best education systems in the world . We were happy, but at the same time unknowing, about the condition of Norwegian schools.
By putting up some clear goals to pursue, we have managed to raise the pupils’ performances significantly in recent years.
Now we have great progress in the major OECD surveys. We have benefitted from taking part in these international studies, without ever thinking that these results can measure all aspects of education. Basic competencies and especially reading have become major issues since that time.
Critical voices have been concerned about narrowing the curriculum. They claim that PISA and extensive testing leads to less attention to other important aspects of education.
This is one of the major dilemmas of assessment. I agree that the OECD has made an important contribution to the understanding of this complicated issue and how it can be dealt with.
We have developed a national quality assessment system (NKVS) for the education sector in Norway. It is important to note that the assessment system is much more than assessment of learning outcomes. It also contains data on resources and results from surveys among students, teachers, parents, some mandatory and some voluntary. And we try to underline that data must be supplemented with other available information to provide a basis for decisions on measures for improvement.
I would also like to mention that since 2010 we have conducted a large scale project on assessment for learning. The aim is to develop teachers´ skills in assessment for learning. Almost half of our municipalities will have taken part in the project by the end of the project period in 2014. This project has also been used as a case study in the OECD project on “Governing complex Education Systems”, to analyze the process of implementation of the ideas of assessment for learning in all schools.
Our experiences with the Norwegian Quality Assessment system is that it has
- Contributed to direct more attention to the outcomes of students learning
- Given a better basis for schools and municipalities to analyse and discuss their strengths and weaknesses.
- This is also the situation for the national level education authorities: We have a lot more information on the situation in Norwegian schools now than we had 10-15 years ago.
OECD has given us accurate and relevant analyses of our system and challenges. What we see as the main challenges now is very much in line with what the expert team from the OECD has pointed at.
In a White Paper presented to the Parliament in March this year we discuss our experiences with the assessment system and present our plans for further development in this field.
Finally, there is another issue that I also would like to draw attention to. In the report from the Country review for Norway, the expert group pointed at teacher appraisal as an area that is underdeveloped in Norway.
Teacher evaluation was also the subject at the Teacher Summit recently organised in Amsterdam by the OECD and the Dutch Ministry of Education. Here we agreed on using our established partnership with the main stakeholders to discuss elements in a comprehensive and coherent teacher policy.
A starting point will be to analyze existing standards, criteria and descriptions of good teaching. We will also initiate projects to try out and evaluate different forms of teacher evaluation, including evaluation of school leaders.
I am certain that the work on the review will prove to be useful in this process and that the extensive knowledge base that the syntheses report has provided, will prove extremely valuable to us in this process.
It is my hope and belief that you all - as participants here at this international conference, will find it both beneficial and inspiring! I wish you all good luck with the conference and the important work to follow up on these matters in your respective countries.
And I wish you a nice stay in Norway!
Thank you for your attention!