Norway is deeply committed to education, as demonstrated by its high level of public expenditure and the dynamic policy activity targeting education quality in the country. This has been translated into noteworthy successes. For example, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) that gauges how well the students master key subjects in order to be prepared for real-life situations in the adult world, has shown a positive development in the average performance of Norwegian students, which is now above the OECD average in all three disciplines (science, mathematics, and reading).

Norway is set on continuing this positive development, but recognises there still are challenges and great differences between schools in municipalities and between municipalities and regions. The role of the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training is being remodelled, with the current devolution of competences to local authorities. In particular, strategies for professional development are questioned, as they may be inadequate for local contexts and fail to engage teachers.

This is why in its White Paper n.21 “Desire to learn - early intervention and quality in schools”, the Government of Norway aims to provide municipalities and schools with greater freedom of action and empower them to carry out systematic school improvements at the local level. It introduces a new competence development model for schools to develop collaborative professionalism at every layer of the education system, and consists in in-service professional development.

The OECD has engaged with Norway to support the implementation of this new competence development model for schools, as part of its new strand of work centred on education policy implementation. It builds on evidence that policy reforms do not always translate into concrete actions and results in schools. This is partly due to the gap between the attention given to the policy design and the lack of support once it has to be implemented. Moreover, as education policy is taking shape in increasingly complex environments, moving from top-down structures to more horizontal interactions between many actors, the nature of policy implementation is changing with much more negotiation and co-construction with stakeholders.

As countries aim to achieve excellence, equity and efficiency in education, one of the aims for the OECD Directorate for Education and Skills is to provide implementation support to close the gap between educational aspirations and performance by providing strategic advice, and ensuring the integration of different stakeholders at different stages of the policy implementation process.

This tailored support with Norway brings together two teams from the Implementing Education Policies and Strategic Education Governance projects (Annex A). The OECD team undertook two assessment visits to Norway (June 2018 and February 2019, Annex B), and organised a stakeholder implementation seminar (October 2018, Annex C) during which Norwegian education stakeholders discussed and proposed options on how to most effectively implement this new competence development model.

This report, grounded on evidence, and highly contextualised with Norwegian education stakeholders, through visits and an implementation seminar, presents OECD’s assessment and proposes suggestions for the implementation strategy of the new competence development model. Looking at strengths and weaknesses of the current implementation strategy of the new model, it offers actions to consider to foster the adoption and the development of the new model.

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