Reviews of National Policies for Education: Improving Lower Secondary Schools in Norway 2011

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Lower secondary education is key for success in overall education attainment, because it is where students can either “make it or break it.” It is the last level to consolidate basic skills and to enter either upper secondary education or the labour market with the adequate competences. This report develops comparative knowledge on lower secondary education across OECD countries and tailors it to the context of an OECD country: Norway.

Despite diversity in provision across countries, lower secondary education faces some similar challenges: some countries have difficulties ensuring high academic achievement, and many students fall behind at this stage, resulting eventually in drop out from upper secondary. Selected evidence shows that there may be lack of student motivation and that the configuration and practices in schools at this age may not cater adequately to the specific development needs of early adolescents.

After analyzing the comparative evidence and country practices, this report provides a strategy to support teachers, schools and students that can contribute to raise student attainment in this level (or to make this level more effective) in Norway.


Lower secondary education across countries

This chapter argues that lower secondary is a key level within education systems, and that success in this specific level has a positive impact in education achievement overall. However, lower secondary education has not been a clear focus of research or policy priority across countries. A comparative analysis shows different ways in which it is delivered across countries and raises issues such as the duration of lower secondary school, how this level fits with primary or upper upper secondary, the role it plays in comprehensive schooling, and teaching and learning approaches to maintain the motivation of students. After a review of the literature on the purpose and the types of lower secondary education prevalent across OECD countries, the chapter presents some conclusions on the current situation and the challenges to improve this level, and international evidence and research findings on how lower secondary can be more effective.


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