4.3 Learning outcomes in upper secondary education and training

Just as in compulsory education, grades in upper secondary education and training are stable over time. The exception is mathematics, where there are bigger fluctuations.

Differences in grades between boys and girls are slightly less noticeable in upper secondary than in lower secondary, but girls still receive better coursework grades than boys in all subjects. Differences between boys and girls are smaller in average written exam results than with coursework grades. Average written exam results are lower than coursework grades in all subjects. Average written exam results in many of the Maths subjects are more than one grade lower than the coursework grade. We do not have a sufficient, complete overview of oral exam results.

Half of all pupils achieve lower written exam results than coursework grades

Analyses of the differences between coursework grades and written exam results in the period 2009/10 to 2012/13 show that half of all pupils sitting exams achieved poorer exam results than coursework grades. The analyses are based on the subjects Norwegian (primary and secondary language forms), English and mathematics (1P and 1T).

Pupils with a high coursework grade are more likely to receive an exam result below their coursework grade (Figure 4.10). Pupils with the lowest coursework grades are more likely to achieve better exam results. 75 percent of pupils with a coursework grade of 6 or 5 achieved a lower exam result.

The proportion of pupils receiving a lower grade in the exam than for coursework was smaller among boys, but this is due to lower average coursework grades. When comparing boys and girls with the same coursework grade, the boys were more likely to achieve a lower exam result.

Pupils attending private schools are slightly more likely to see exam results that are lower than their coursework grade compared with pupils studying at public schools, although the differences are minor.

Figure 4.9 Written exam results and coursework grades in selected core subjects. 2012/13. Average.

Source: Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training/The School Portal

Figure 4.10 Differences between coursework grade and exam result – selected subjects. 2009/10-2012/13. Percentage.

Source: The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training

The difference between written exam results and coursework grades has lessened in the last two years. A larger proportion of pupils receive the same grade for their coursework as for their exam. The percentage of pupils receiving a better exam grade than coursework grade has also increased, while fewer pupils now receive a lower grade in their exam. One contributing factor to this change could be teachers have modified their assessment criteria in response to the Knowledge Promotion reform, and the accompanying Assessment for Learning initiative (Aasen et al. 2012, Sandvik and Buland 2013). The Directorate for Education and Training has also been working systematically in recent years to raise the quality of exam moderation by holding annual courses for moderators, for example.

Apprenticeship and journeyman's examinations

Vocational training is upper secondary training in schools and enterprises that leads to a trade certificate, a journeyman’s certificate, or other vocational qualifications. Apprenticeship and journeyman’s examinations are a test in which candidates are asked to: plan their work; choose methods; control their work; document their work; and to defend the choices made. Candidates are awarded either a very good pass, a pass, or a fail.

9 in 10 pupils pass their apprenticeship and journeyman’s examinations

The pass rate among pupils who sit apprenticeship and journeyman’s examinations is 93 percent. Pass rates vary between study programmes, and the largest pass rates, 14 percent, can be found on the design, arts and crafts programme. The fail rate on the hairdressing course, which accounts for a large share of examinations in this study programme, is 15 percent. In addition, 10 percent of pupils on the programme for restaurant management and food processing, 9 percent of pupils on the programme for building and construction, and 8 percent of pupils on the Programme for Healthcare, Childhood and Youth Development fail. The fail rate on other study programmes is between 4 percent and 6 percent.

Figure 4.11 Results from apprenticeship and journeyman's examinations – by study programme. 2012/13. Preliminary figures. Numbers and percentage.

Source: Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training/The School Portal