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 in Norway

progress and challenges

This chapter reviews Norway’s strengths and challenges in lower secondary education, laying the foundation for the recommendations that follow in Chapter 3. It identifies a set of assets on which Norway can build upon to strengthen its system. These include signs of recent improvement in student performance (with scope for accelerated uplift), the public and social prioritisation of education, the comprehensive character of the educational system that emphasises equity and inclusion, the positive learning environment in the schools, the strong teacher motivation, the parallel policy efforts geared towards improvement and governance close to school needs. Conversely, it identifies four main challenges that can be reviewed to improve the quality of lower secondary education in Norway. These are the low engagement and motivation of lower secondary students, the need to nurture the conditions that make excellent teachers, the failure to address students’ individual learning pathways, and governance arrangements that do not align sufficiently with one another to support improvement.


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