Assessment for Selection in the Scandinavian Education Systems – ASSESS (PhD project) (completed)

The ASSESS study investigates the rationales and policies for accreditation and selection of secondary students in the Scandinavian education systems; and the national authorities’ strategies for ensuring validity and comparability of the assessments that underpin these accreditation and selection procedures.


In Norway, Sweden and Denmark admission to most higher education institutions and programs is centrally administrated by national bodies governed by the Ministry of Education and Research. With few exceptions, students’ upper secondary education certificate is the fundamental selection criterion for admission to higher education. In each country the Ministry of Education and Research is also governing secondary education and its assessment and accreditation systems. These assessment systems comprise various types of formal assessments (i.e. achievement levels expressed in quantitative terms which enables comparison and selection) of which the vast majority is awarded by the students’ teacher of the relevant subject and to various extent by external examiners. Formal assessments are used as currency in the education and job market and are fundamental components of student’s introduction to society as independent adults and for all parts of the society which make decisions based on the student’s certifications. Thus comparability of the assessment in secondary education is vital, both for the sake of credibility of individuals’ secondary education certificates; to ensure fair selection to higher education; and for maintaining a coherent meritocratic education system. 

Main research question

The study seeks to illuminate what strategies national authorities apply in order to ensure validity and comparability of accreditation and selection procedures in secondary education.

Research methods:

The study draws on two sets of data: document analysis and expert interviews. The document analysis includes relevant policy documents underpinning the last educational reform and current system for educational assessment: white and green papers, legislation and decrees, commissioning letters and other relevant policy documents. The expert interviews include policy makers in the ministries and the national education authorities.

Tags: Vurdering, eksamen, Policy prosesser, Education Governance
Published June 28, 2011 1:27 PM - Last modified May 19, 2016 4:39 PM


Sverre Tveit is a visiting student researcher to University of California, Berkeley for the 2012-2013 academic year


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