EXPLAINED: The new exam dilemma facing Norway’s schools

EXPLAINED: The new exam dilemma facing Norway's schools
Norway's education minister Guri Melby is under pressure to again cancel end-of-year exams for Norwegian teenagers.

High schools in most parts of Norway moved to the “amber” level of the national traffic light model for safety and distancing protocols at schools on January 20th, allowing most to return to the classroom.

Schools in red areas however, where there are a higher number of Covid cases, remained closed. 

Throughout the past year most students have at some point had classes moved online, and with rising cases of the B117 variant questions are now being asked as to whether final exams should take place in the current climate.

Union of Education Norway, the Ministry of Education, student organisations and experts have recommended and advocated for repeating the April 2020 decision to cancel spring exams due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the disadvantages and challenges of online learning.

End-of-year exams are currently the only official independent examination for Norwegian teenagers and can be decisive in university enrolment.

However, high average grades last year caused the acceptance criteria for most university courses across the country to soar.

That meant it was harder for previous year groups to get into their preferred university, with many who usually would get an offer being declined due to unusually high average grades.

According to data collected by the Ministry of Education, approximately 50 percent of all students get a lower grade on their exams than in other evaluations.

The political parties are split on what decision is best, though it is reported that the governing Conservative party (Høyre) is reluctant to cancel exams so early in the academic year. 

The party is suggesting trying to find an intermediate solution, arguing that students deserve an independent assessment from someone other than their teacher and that the “corona children” gain an unfair advantage over other year groups in university enrolment without regular exams.

Members of junior coalition party the Christian Democrats are reported to favour the advice of the Ministry of Education, which recommends cancelling, according to media TV2.

It is currently unclear when the final decision on this year’s examinations will be made.


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