Preliminary findings from the case studies in Norway

From Skedsmo and Hopfenbeck (in progress): 

At the municipal level…

  • In all four municipalities there is a strong focus on student outcomes in terms of results on the national standardised tests.
  • However, the practices of the municipalities show difference when it comes to how and the extent to which school outcomes play an important part in local governing processes.
  • Expectations directed towards the principals with respect to improving school outcomes vary with respect to precision and pressure on principals.
  • When evaluating school outcomes on national tests the municipalities differ with respect to the extent context or the current situation of the schools is taken into account.
  • Regarding expectations about school improvement, the four Chief-Executive Officers differ in how they perceive time and resource allocation.
  • The Chief-Executive Officers also express different views on the consequences of transparency and making school outcomes public accessible.
  • In all the four municipalities new meeting arenas are established as part of their quality management procedures.
  • The municipalities differ with respect to methods and procedures to fulfill their tasks and responsibilities as “school owners”.
  • The methods and procedures put in place vary with respect to logic and also possible unintended consequences.
  • School results on the national standardised tests represent strong means for local school governing and are used for the following purposes:
    • To monitors schools’ progress over time
    • To set priorities
    • To coordinate activities (strategy plans, professional development etc.)
    • To hold schools accountable for outcomes achieved

At the school level…

  • The principals experience increased pressure from their superiors at the municipal level
  • The principals emphasise the importance of students performing well on the national standardised tests and on exams (10th grade)
  • However, they are deeply concerned about the students’ well-being in school and providing a good and safe learning environment
  • Feedback conversations with staff have become important governing tools for the principals.
  • Arenas have been established internally (teacher teams and the principals) and to some extent externally where student outcomes as well as improvement actions are discussed.
  • Parents are more concerned about academic achievements than earlier.
  • The schools (and municipalities) have developed different practices with respect to incentives for achieving good results.

References

Skedsmo, G. and T. Hopfenbeck (In progress). “A study of school leaders’ use of assessment data in order to improve the school practice”.

The Education Act (2003). No. 10, § 13-10, Ministry of Education and Research.

The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training (2006). Report on the State Supervision.

The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training (2010). “Rekruttering av veiledere (Recruitment of advisers).” Retrieved February 21, 2011, from http://www.udir.no/Artikler/_Skoleledelse/Rekruttering-av-veiledere-2010/.