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Descriptions of the legal system for assessment - Iceland

The Compulsory Schools Act contains a special section on study assessment, which is discussed in six articles. These state that:

The principal objective in the assessment of pupils is to encourage the pupils and assist their study. . . Assessment should be a permanent aspect of school activities, inseparable from study and instruction. The Act states that assessment aims to produce the most dependable evidence possible on the success of school activities, and the success of individual pupils or groups in achieving the objectives set for them. The National Curriculum Guide of 1999 contains a more detailed definition of assessment:

Assessment should be objective, honest and fair to the pupils. This means that all aspects of study, progress, knowledge, comprehension and skills must be assessed, weighted in accordance with the study emphases. Assessment of study and progress is thus part of the school’s activities. Assessment attempts to discover whether a pupil has achieved the objectives aimed at, or how far he/she has proceeded toward them... it is clear that a variety of assessment methods must be used. They must suit the objectives to be measured and reflect the emphases of the instruction… Assessment results must thus be based both on teachers’ informal assessment and on formal methods, such as examinations and tests. 

The objectives of the National Curriculum Guide are almost exclusively concerned with individual subjects taught, but take little account of other factors, such as social skills and working methods. The objectives focus on the pupils, and are stated in three categories:

  • Final objectives
  • Intermediate Objectives
  • Enabling objectives

Intermediate objectives are the principal criteria in all school work. They are divided into three levels, for Years 1 to 4, Years 5 to 7 and Years 8 to 10. The intermediate objectives in the National Curriculum Guide are worded in such a way that it is relatively easy to measure whether, or how far, they have been achieved. The objectives also form the basis for mandated national examinations in Icelandic and mathematics in Years 4, 7 and 10. The Compulsory Schools Act states that national examinations in core subjects shall be taken simultaneously in all classes in Years 4 and 7 of primary school, and that at the end of compulsory schooling national examinations shall be held in at least four subjects, to be determined by the Ministry of Education. 

Regulations on arrangements and implementation of national examinations in Years 4, 7 and 10 of compulsory school

The arrangements and implementation of national examinations are subject to three sets of Regulations.

  • Regulations on arrangements and implementation of national examinations in Years 4 and 7 of compulsory school, 2000.
  • Regulations on arrangements and implementation of national examinations in Year 10 of compulsory school, 2000
  • Regulations on study assessment of pupils whose development deviates so far from the norm that national examinations are not suitable for them, 1996. 

The purposes of national examinations in Years 4, 7 and 10 are principally to ascertain whether the study objectives of the National Curriculum Guide for the relevant subject of aspect of study are achieved, to provide guidance on emphases in teaching for individual pupils, to provide pupils, guardians/parents and schools with information on pupils’ study performance and status, to provide information on how schools stand in the subjects in which examinations are held vis-à-vis other schools, and to provide criteria for pupils in Year 10 regarding admission to the various study programmes of upper secondary school. 

While national examinations are compulsory in Years 4 and 7, and 95% of pupils take national examinations in Icelandic, English and mathematics in Year 10, the legislation provides for waivers in the procedure for taking the examinations, in the case of physical handicap, long-term illness or other difficulties of biological origin, such as dyslexia, provided that this condition of the pupil is confirmed by specialists in the relevant field. Deaf pupils and those with a native language other than Icelandic are also entitled to exemption from the national examinations and possible waivers of normal examination procedure.

 

Sources:

  • National Curriculum Guide for Compulsory School, General Section, 1999. Ministry of Education. 
  • Compulsory Schools Act, no. 66/1995
  • Reglugerð um námsmat þeirra sem víkja svo frá almennum þroska að þeim hentar ekki samræmd próf nr. 709/1996.
  • [Regulations on study assessment of pupils whose development deviates so far from the norm that national examinations are not suitable for them, no. 709/1996.]
  • Reglugerð um fyrirkomulag og framkvæmd samræmdra prófa í 10 bekk grunnskóla nr. 414/2000. [Regulations on arrangements and implementation of national examinations in Year 10 of compulsory school, no. 414/2000] 
  • Reglugerð um fyrirkomulag og framkvæmd samræmdra prófa í 4. og 7. bekk grunnskóla nr. 415/2000.
  • [Regulations on arrangements and implementation of national examinations in Years 4 and 7 of compulsory school, no. 415/2000]
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