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Descriptions of the legal system for assessment - Estonia

Legal acts and regulations provide opportunities and possibilities for identification and assessment of special needs, learning assistance and support. The following regulations support pupils with special needs in an ordinary classroom.

Basis for organisation of work in a remedial teaching group (1999, amendments 2002, 2005).

The regulation of the Ministry of Education states that the aim of remedial teaching is to support a pupil with special needs in a compulsory school and to facilitate acquisition of study results established in the National Curriculum for Basic and Upper Secondary Schools. Pupils with specific learning difficulties, with physical and mixed disabilities, with visual or hearing impairments have the right to receive remedial teaching. Remedial teaching is also meant for those 1st-2nd grade pupils who, in spite of a teacher’s help and assistance, cannot acquire curriculum’s requirements and need support in acquiring learning skills and habits. Pupils who study according to the Simplified Curriculum or the Curriculum for pupils with moderate and severe learning disability do not receive remedial teaching.

If a pupil cannot fulfil the requirements established in the curriculum and the teacher’s extra consultations have no effect, A pupil´s observation chart will be opened. The chart is added to the regulation. It is very thorough and covers all areas of development. The teacher who collects assessment material for a pupil can decide which areas shall be observed and which not. The pedagogical council will make a decision based on data from the chart whether a child needs remedial teaching or not. If necessary, the council may involve other specialists (speech therapist, psychologist, remedial teacher, other teachers or medical specialist) Parents shall agree to the council’s decisions. In a case where parents do not agree with the decision the pupil will not receive remedial teaching. There will be up to 4 hours of remedial teaching in I school stage (grades 1-3) and at least 3 hours in II school stage (grades 4-6) in a week.

Estonian educational legislation is under continuous improvement. The latest amendments entered into force from September 1, 2005. Since the adoption of the Education Act in 1992 a lot has changed for pupils with special needs. When all pupils got the right to attend a local school the general opinion (that was also supported by legislation) was that pupils with special needs could go to a local school if the school did not have to change their way of teaching and assessment. At the moment legal acts put responsibility on schools to teach pupils with special needs. The school has to also find necessary financial, physical and human resources. As most of general schools offering primary education are owned by a local government, the local government often has to cover additional costs for teaching pupils with special needs. Most of the special schools in Estonia are state-owned, which means they receive funding directly from the state budget.

The Estonian educational system is largely based on capitation money (every pupil brings a certain amount of money to his/her school).

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