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Challenges and tendencies - Estonia

Since September 1, 2005 a new regulation on assessment came into force. The regulation clearly states how pupils who study according to an individual education plan shall be assessed. The regulation defines a new five-point grading system. The grading system gives a teacher flexibility in assessing a pupil and a better opportunity to take into account the pupil’s individual needs, skills and abilities.

Another important factor facilitating assessment in inclusive settings is the reduction of maximum number of pupils in a class. The upper limit has been cut by 1/3 and this gives a good opportunity for more pupil-centred teaching and assessment. It also gives a better opportunity to notice and identify special needs in a classroom. The reduction of the maximum number is introduced step-by-step starting from primary classes. The maximum number of pupils in a compulsory school is 24, instead of 36. A large class has mainly been a problem in big town schools. In smaller schools the maximum limit is rarely achieved.

New amendments in the Remedial teaching regulation only require a decision from a medical specialist if necessary. In previous years a teacher could only decide about the need for remedial teaching in grades 1 and 2. Starting from grade 3, parents had to submit a paper from a medical specialist. This caused many problems as parents often refused to make a psychiatrist appointment and, therefore, also missed a possibility to help their child by remedial teaching. The new amendment approves teachers as the main specialists in children’s needs. 

The National Examination and Qualification Centre is the competent authority in Estonia to collect assessment information. They draw up national examination materials, but also collect information concerning the tests and examinations. They analyse the following aspects of tests: aims and general data of the test (competencies tested, parts of the test, number of tasks, share of every task, assessment criteria); data on the pupil and school (language of teaching, location, gender of a pupil); evaluation of the assessment of tests ( how precisely assessment guidelines have been used); results of the test (general mean) in %, highest result in %, lowest result in %, standard deviation etc); quality indicators of the test; correlation with term assessment results; comparison with the test results from previous years, feedback about the test.

Based on the test, analysis and feedback from teachers’ proposals will be made for improvement of study materials and the national curriculum, for in-service training of teachers, for drawing up next tests and national examinations.

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