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Assessment policy: introduction - Finland

The task of basic education is to e.g. enhance a sense of community and equality, develop skills for critical assessment and renew outlooks as well as modes of action. Basic education must provide an opportunity for diversified growth, learning and the development of a healthy sense of self-esteem, so that the pupils can obtain the knowledge and skills they need in life, become capable of further study and, as involved citizens, develop a democratic society. Also, basic education aims at increasing an awareness of the values and ways of acting that form the foundation of society and awaken desire for lifelong learning.

These basic tasks of education are challenging the system of assessment in education. To develop something better we need to know the critical points to focus on. The Finnish administration based on delegation gives local authorities the freedom to make plans and decisions concerning educational provision in basic education. The flexibility of educational legislation also gives local authorities the chance to independently create innovative educational solutions. The statutory framework comes from the national educational norms and legislation. The ministry of Education and the Finnish National Board of Education are supporting the municipalities by giving information on the educational basic guidelines. In such a system there could be a risk of missing the guarantee of educational equality. For example, according to the latest reports the pupils in basic education do not have equal opportunities in receiving support with their studies. To steer and control the quality and equality of education the local authorities are obliged to assess their own operations and take part in external assessments.

Both internal and external assessment needs to be developed further. We need to have more in quantity and more precise information about the pupils with SEN. The statistics tell us about the number of pupils that have participated in different modes of SNE, but there is a lack of knowledge on the actual extent of the educational needs of the pupils. The service system of educational support for studies has to be very diverse to meet the needs of the many different learners. The “excellence” of Finnish the educational support system is mostly based on the large provision of SNE. New modes of support (in addition to SNE) need to be applied in mainstream settings. To develop the national system of educational support services we need to assess both the actual needs of the pupils and the functional efficiency of current networks of support services.

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