The number of students of foreign origin has increased rapidly in Iceland and there has been a great need for assessment tools to assess their academic status. Such a comprehensive assessment tool is now in use, in Icelandic and about 40 other languages, and it is accessible to everyone on the website of the Directorate of Education.
The municipalities of Árborg, Hafnarfjörður and Reykjanesbær began collaborating in 2016 on translating and locating status assessment tools that have been used successfully in Sweden. Later, Reykjavík joined the collaboration.
The project aims to respond as soon as possible to the learning needs of new students, build on their strengths and strengthen learning skills through systematic intervention in the early stages of schooling in a new country. The status assessment is not an exam but gives the school an insight into what experience and knowledge the student has and which students need special support for their studies.
“This is an important tool that the school system has long lacked to map the academic status of new students in the Icelandic school system. In implementing the assessment, staff in participating municipalities have shared interest, vision and learned new things together, and I thank them very much for the very valuable work that others now benefit from. The status assessment will benefit both individuals and the school community as a whole, “says Lilja Alfreðsdóttir, Minister of Education and Culture.
The assessment was published by the Swedish National Agency for Education and legalized there in the compulsory school law in 2016. All schools in Sweden are obliged to submit the assessment, but it is divided into three levels.
Level 1 – previous knowledge and experience:
Assessment that maps the student’s previous knowledge and experience, e.g. regarding language skills, other schooling and main strengths. The results of the assessment make it easier for schools to plan their studies based on the new student’s needs.
Level 2 – literacy and numeracy:
Assessment that examines the student’s reading skills and numeracy in his or her own mother tongue.
Level 3 – Subjects:
Assessment that examines skills in subjects, e.g. English, mathematics, science, social studies, is being developed and it is intended that it will be accessible at the beginning of the next school year. This assessment will give schools an insight into the knowledge and skills in those subjects and create a basis for better planning of appropriate learning and teaching.
The status assessment is accessible to everyone on the website of the Directorate of Education. There you will find all the data needed to submit it, e.g. teaching instructions, assignments, registration bases and summary documents. There are also introductory videos that cover its prehistory, the presentation of each section, the results and practical issues.
Active consultation and discussion has taken place among those who have worked on the implementation of the assessment, and common ways have been sought to identify and systematically improve working methods that contribute to better academic achievement and students’ well-being.
The project’s steering group will continue to respond to local authorities’ calls, hold introductory courses and be available to teachers regarding submissions, as well as work on further implementation of the subject and preschool part of the status assessment. It is expected that the preschool assessment will be ready for use before the autumn of 2021. Several upper secondary schools have also begun to use the Status Assessment.