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Assessment policy: introduction - Sweden

The central government in Sweden defines national goals and guidelines, but avoids detailed regulations to give municipalities and independent schools as much freedom as possible to shape their own work. Defining the goals for administration can involve:

  • Ongoing revision of course syllabi, grading criteria and other steering documents to ensure that they reflect the needs motivated by developments in society and the workplace, as well as the needs of individuals and thereby contribute over time to greater equality of education.
  • Setting criteria to be met when opening new independent schools and assessing whether applications received for new schools meet these criteria. For example, the criteria are applied to assess the ability and desire of the responsible organisation to run an independent school that is consistent with the basic values of education that apply in the state school system.
  • Providing monetary steering instruments for municipalities and schools to better achieve goals and guarantee quality and equivalence. The allocation of special state subsidies is evaluated on an ongoing basis to determine whether school authorities are meeting the goals for which the funding was provided. 

The National Agency for Education informs in order to influence and reviews in order to improve. Providing information to influence can involve:

  • Clarifying course syllabi and grading criteria through national examinations to support teachers in grade-setting and thereby ensure fairness and consistency in grading pupils.
  • Making qualified prognoses regarding the availability of staff, from a two-year perspective, to facilitate municipalities´ recruitment planning or to enable the Government to identify the number of places needed in teacher training programs.
  • Making the results of National Agency for Education reviews and evaluations readily accessible and comprehensible for parents so that they have an idea of how their children’s school works. With this knowledge to support them, parents can engage in a constructive dialogue with teachers and school administrators concerning how their individual school can be developed.

Reviewing to effect improvements can involve:

  • Establishing through educational inspections whether – and how well – an educational activity is functioning in relation to the regulations set out in the Swedish Education Act and school curricula and drawing attention to areas where a municipality or board of an independent school need to invest more effort in their own development work.
  • By using national evaluations to focus on areas where development is needed at the national level, as well as providing the underlying basis for this development.
  • Participating in international evaluations in order to gain more in-depth knowledge on comparable education systems and on how other countries have dealt with areas similar to those needing improvement in the Swedish education system.
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