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.


Policy levers for quality lower secondary in Norway

This chapter presents a set of recommendations to improve the quality of lower secondary education in Norway. They focus on levers that can make a difference in improving student performance and motivation: students, teachers and schools, all within a framework of ensuring effective policy implementation. Each recommendation starts with a comparative framework, follows with a review of the current context in Norway and provides a recommendation with three tangible action steps. The chapter first proposes the need to align and focus policy design and implementation to the current decentralised structure by focusing on key priorities, raising capacity and using data strategically. It then moves to the need to raise teacher’s status in Norway by strengthening initial teacher education, raising the level to a Masters degree, strengthening teaching skills through continuing teacher education and delivering concrete teaching strategies, and defining clear expectations for teachers. In terms of school improvement, it suggests the development of a national strategy to strengthen schools as organisations, to enhance instructional leadership and to give greater flexibility and choice for students. The last recommendation proposes ways to ensure students make smooth and successful transitions from primary into lower secondary and then into upper secondary.


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