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Innovative assessment tools and methods - Iceland

Debate on evaluation, study assessment and methods has been limited in Iceland, with the exception of discussion of the results of national examinations. This emerges clearly in a new report which is in preparation on research in the field of schooling and education in Iceland; this does not indicate that study assessment has been a subject of research by Icelandic academics.  It appears that it is mainly the Educational Testing Institute which has researched and published the results of national examinations, and the findings of international studies in which Iceland has been a participant. Some change is taking place, as some schools are working on pilot projects relating to study assessment. The major field relates to portfolio assessment, and assessment which encourages participation by the pupil, such as self-assessment by pupils, setting of objectives by them, and participation in pupil, teacher, and parent meetings. This work is in its infancy, and it is difficult to predict how it will affect the schooling and participation of pupils with special needs in general.

In this final section, we use another quote from M. to identify what the emerging issues and concepts are that can help everyone understand inclusive assessment more clearly.

I feel that this approach which is now called individual orientation (it was called the Open School or School for All) is the route that all schools are taking. Sometimes it’s a good idea to give things a new name, so that the professionals make an effort and change their methods. It’s necessary to promote especially pupils, and their parents, taking more responsibility for the studies, and at the same time study assessment, along with the teachers. For that to happen, teachers must come out, and change their attitudes and methods. Start working more openly, in the open. I must state that teachers should teach, and parents should be supportive, but not teach. I feel that I’m noticing a more holistic view in the debate. There is a certain theme to this interest in individual orientation. Take the portfolio as an example. They help the pupils to assess their work and performance, and have more input regarding their studies. M. 

I don’t know of any other hindrances than the professionals themselves. Some are the main obstacle, as well as the organisation of school work, which is inflexible. Some professionals have to change. Nobody will do it for them – they must do that job themselves. M. 

Development is mainly supported by setting out a policy, because without policy there can be no development. The State, local government and schools all need to form policies on assessment. And when the policy has been formed, implementation must be ensured by counselling and support for the schools. Such counselling must be ongoing, throughout the process of schools implementation of the changes.



  • Úttekt á rannsóknum á sviði fræðslu- og menntamála. Október 2005. Rannsóknamiðstöð Íslands og Menntamálaráðuneyti. Reykjavík. [Summary of Research Studies in the Field of Schooling and Education. October 2005. Icelandic Centre for Research and Ministry of Education. Reykjavík]
  • Interview with a mother. August 2005

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