Could schools in Norway scrap exams for good?

Exams in schools could face the axe after the Norwegian Directorate of Education said it wanted to look at several alternatives to the current system. 

A pupil taking an exam, which could be scrapped in Norway.
The Norwegian Directorate of Education has said that it will assess whether exams are a necessary part of the curriculum. Pictured is a pupil doing school work. Photo by Ben Mullins on Unsplash

Exams could become a thing of the past for Norwegian pupils after the country’s education directorate said that it would assess the current system and explore the possibility of alternatives. 

“In the slightly longer term, the directorate will also try out alternatives to the current exam system,” Per Kristian Larsen-Evjen, department director for upper secondary education, told newspaper Aftenposten

The directorate will also be undergoing research on how exams work. For the third year in a row, exams in Norway for 10th graders and students graduating high school were cancelled due to the pandemic. 

Experts are split on whether exams being cut from the curriculum would be a good thing, though. 

Professor and assessment researcher Tony Burner from the University of Southeast Norway believes that the pandemic opened people’s eyes to the possibility of a schools system without exams. 

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“Many teachers say they got more time for teaching and mid-term assessment after exams were cancelled. And many students have experienced less stress,” Burner told Aftenposten

However, the Norwegian Teachers’ Association is more sceptical about the prospect of an exam-free curriculum. 

The association’s leader, Helle Christin Nyhus, said that exams are an essential part of a comprehensive assessment system. However, Nyhus did add that the association would be involved in discussions on how exams can be adapted to be more fit for purpose. 

One student told Aftenposten that exams place too much importance on a single day and don’t allow pupils to demonstrate the breadth of what they have learnt. 

“I think exams are a bad assessment. If you have a bad day on the exam day, it can negatively affect your diploma and future plans. Besides, we do not get to show the breadth of what we have learned in a single exam,” Tuva Louise Enger told the paper. 

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Teachers in Norway likely to strike over wage negotiations

School teachers in Norway could be taken out on strike in two weeks as unions representing education professionals are unhappy with the proposed wage rises offered by the state. 

Teachers in Norway likely to strike over wage negotiations

A major strike was averted on Tuesday when the municipal sector agreed on a wage rise of 3.84 percent, after mediation talks went into overtime. 

However, teachers could still be taken out on strike as education unions are unhappy with the state’s offer, with industrial action potentially beginning as early as two weeks from now. 

“The teachers have come out (of the settlement) poorly, we were the wage losers last year, KS (the employer organisation for the public sector) made sure of that. Now they are setting up a scheme that will ensure teachers will have poorer wage growth,” Stefan Handal, negotiator for Unio and leader of the Education Association (Utdanningsforbundet), told public broadcaster NRK

Handal added that strikes in the education sector would commence two weeks from now.

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Technically, potential strikes would have to be discussed by the central board at Unio. However, Newswire NTB reports that it has been informed that it is unlikely that a meeting of the central board would lead to strikes being averted. 

The National Association of Schools has also announced it would strike in 14 days. Lecturers are also unhappy with the state’s proposal, and the central board of the Norwegian Lecturers’ Association would meet to discuss the next steps.