11 SES 13, Data Use in Education: Alluring attributes and productive processes
National tests were introduced in Norway in 2004 as one of several indicators forming a national system for quality assurance in education. The main purpose of national tests is to provide educational authorities at local and national levels with information on general student competency, as schools in Norway are governed at the municipal level. National tests are part of the national system for quality assessment, and this establishment can be said to represent a shift in Norwegian school governance (Allerup et al. 2009, Elstad 2009). Historically, student results have not been regarded as a major indicator of school quality in Norway. Skedsmo (2011: 77) points to how the expectations of certain results become implicit goals for schools’ quality, reinforcing the need for countervailing measures to be taken. Test results at school level must be made available to the public, and are published in an aggregated format at school-, municipal-, county- and national levels on a public website, and are meant to provide information on school quality for local government. However, how the data are presented influences their usability, and this is further affected by the fact that many municipalities and the majority of schools are quite small. In many instances the information retrieved from aggregated test results at school or municipal level are of little or no value to the users. This is a general challenge linked to the geography and the population pattern throughout the country, with small and sparsely populated municipalities. The way data is displayed has improved over time, but challenges linked to the public use of aggregated test results still remain. One challenge is linked to the use of data by stakeholders. The Directorate for Education and Training recommend caution when using the results to compare data between years, or to compare results across schools. However, this is still done by stakeholders both at school, municipal and governmental level. The Ministry for Education and Research encourages school owners to use data actively in their White Paper (St.meld. nr. 31, 2007-08), by doing this they actually con small schools and municipalities into believing that they can use the data to inform policy. Luckily some of the smaller municipalities have already accepted and recognised that their use of data is limited, and are thus not using aggregated test data as an indicator of school quality (Seland et al. 2013; Seland & Hovdhaugen 2017).
Allerup, P., Velibor, K., Kvåle, G., Langfeldt, G. & Skov, P. (2009). Evaluering av det nasjonale kvalitetsvurderingssystemet for grunnopplæringen. FoU-rapport 8/2009. Kristiansand: Agderforskning Elstad, E. (2009). Schools which are named, shamed and blamed by the media: school accountability in Norway. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability, 21(2): 173-189 Seland, I., Hovdhaugen, E. & N. Vibe (2015). Mellom resultatstyring og profesjonsverdier. Nordisk Adminstrativt Tidsskrift, 92(3): 44-59 Seland, I. & Hovdhaugen, E. (2017). National tests in Norway – an undeclared standard in education. In Blömeke S. & Gustafsson, J-E (eds). Standard Setting - International State of Research and Practices in the Nordic Countries. Methodology of Educational Measurement and Assessment Series. Dordrecht: Springer St.meld. nr. 31 (2007-2008). Kvalitet i skolen. Oslo: Kunnskapsdepartementet. Skedsmo, G. (2011). Vurdering som styring av utvikling og overvåkning av resultater. Møller, J. & Ottesen, E. (eds.) Rektor som leder og sjef. Om styring, ledelse og resultatutvikling I skolen. Chapter 4, pp. 74-94. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.
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