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Mainstream assessment systems - Austria

Grading and assessment policies

The following issues are taken into account when evaluating a pupil:

  • evaluation of the pupil’s participation during lessons
  • special oral assessments
  • oral exams
  • oral exercises
  • special written assessments
  • class tests (starting at Year 4)
  • written exams (tests, dictations)
  • special practical evaluation
  • special graphical evaluation

In Year 1 a cumulative mark is given at the end of the first term, at the end of the first school year the pupils receive a report grading them with figures (1-5).

All these measures are also valid for children with mother tongues other than German with the restriction that extraordinary pupils (who cannot follow lessons due to their lack of German) only receive a school attendance certificate. 

The final score consists of the participation during the lessons, the oral, written and practical evaluations. (§ 18, SchUG).

A critical review of grading and assessment

In Austria, the grading system with figures (1-5) traditionally forms an integral part of parents’ and teachers’ attitude towards the evaluation system. Already in primary school the further school career of a pupil can be influenced by his/her marks. Although selection mechanisms have been somehow defused through the inclusive school start (Eingangsstufe ) and several institutions of support (remedial instruction, dyslexia assistance, speech therapy…), still pupils who do not accomplish the learning goals of their class have to repeat the respective year or receive SEN and are exposed to early stigmatisation.

The evaluation with figure grades reckons that all pupils in a class learn the same matter at the same time at the same pace. In other words: it is based on the assumption that a group has a homogeneous standard without taking into account the very different individual learning conditions. This assumption is strongly in contrast with the principle of inclusive education. (Cf.: Niedermair, C.: Zur Pragmatik der Vision einer Schule für alle. Dissertation. Innsbruck  2002. In Buchform: Shaker Verlag, Achen 2004, ISBN 3-8322-2505-6)

When pupils with SEN are instructed according to the general special school syllabus they will also be graded with figures. Although this grading system conveys the impression of objectivity, there are numerous empirical studies which confute this conception. (Cf. Vierlinger 1999, 40 et sqq.) When children fail they are taken from their familiar social group (class) and repeat the subject under different social circumstances (other teachers and fellow pupils, other classrooms), irrespective of having already passed individual subjects successfully or failed them all.

Inclusive classes offer a socially protective climate to children with SEN (in most cases they are not placed in other classes if they fail to reach their learning goals) because they should be instructed individually according to their abilities (via the Individual Education Plan) and according to a syllabus custom tailored for their needs.

Besides, performance assessment can hardly be decoupled from the education style. When learning is considered to be a constructivist approach to knowledge acquisition (as opposed to gaining knowledge through instruction) and to development in a social community, the usual assessment of a pupil can only be perceived as a paradox. Therefore, especially during the pilot project of integration (until 1997), evaluation forms were applied which promoted a different approach to the assessment of pupils. (Cf. Feyerer, E.: Leistungsbeurteilung in Integrationsklassen der Sekundarstufe 1) ,


  • Eingangsstufe: Pre-schoolers start in Year 1 and receive support by additional teachers.
  • Niedermair, C.: On the pragmatics of a vision of a school for all.
  • Feyerer, E. : Assessment in inclusive classes at Secondary Level 1
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