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Balancing Trust and Accountability? The Assessment for Learning Programme in Norway: A Governing Complex Education Systems Case Study


  • Therese Hopfenbeck

    (Oxford University)

  • Astrid Tolo

    (University of Bergen)

  • Teresa Florez

    (Oxford University)

  • Yasmine El Masri

    (Oxford University)


This report explores the development of implementation strategies used to enhance the programme “Assessment for Learning – 2010-2014” in Norwegian schools. Norway’s educational governance is highly decentralised, with 428 municipalities and 19 counties responsible for implementing education activities, organising and operating school services, allocating resources and ensuring quality improvement and development of their schools. This case study is based on56 interviews with 98 key actors and stakeholders in the Norwegian education system, as well as analysis of key policy and legal documents and a range of media articles. Key findings include the importance of clear communication between governance levels and a high degree of trust between stakeholders; the need for a clear understanding of programme goals, the role of learning networks between schools to aid the exchange of knowledge and provide peer support during the implementation process. Innovative forms of capacity building were of particular importance for the smaller municipalities, who reported being overextended by the continual stream of policy changes and struggling with prioritising activities. The case study also provides a series of recommendations for improvement. Ce rapport examine le développement de stratégies de mise en oeuvre utilisées pour l’amélioration du programme « Assessment for Learning – 2010-2014 » dans les établissements scolaires norvégiens. La gouvernance éducative de la Norvège est fortement décentralisée, comptant 428 municipalités et 19 provinces en charge de mettre en oeuvre les activités éducatives, d’organiser et de faire fonctionner les services scolaires, d’allouer les ressources, d’améliorer la qualité des établissements et d’assurer leur développement. Cette étude de cas s’appuie sur 56 entretiens avec 98 acteurs-clé et parties prenantes du système éducatif norvégien, ainsi que sur l’analyse de documents-clé politiques et légaux, et d’un ensemble d’articles médias. Les principaux résultats soulignent : l’importance d’une communication claire entre les différents niveaux de gouvernance et un haut niveau de confiance entre les différentes parties ; la nécessité d’une compréhension nette des objectifs du programme, du rôle des liens d’apprentissage entre les établissements pour faciliter l’échange de savoir et fournir un soutien par les pairs pendant le processus de mise en oeuvre. Des formes innovantes de renforcement des capacités se sont montrées d’importance majeure dans les municipalités de petite taille, lesquelles ont déclaré avoir été dépassées par les fluctuations incessantes dans les politiques à mettre en oeuvre, et avoir eu du mal à décider des activités auxquelles donner priorité. Cette étude de cas conclut par une série de recommandations pour l’amélioration du programme.

Suggested Citation

  • Therese Hopfenbeck & Astrid Tolo & Teresa Florez & Yasmine El Masri, 2013. "Balancing Trust and Accountability? The Assessment for Learning Programme in Norway: A Governing Complex Education Systems Case Study," OECD Education Working Papers 97, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:eduaab:97-en

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