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New digital national tests place great demands on Sweden's school leaders

June 20, 2022

Original Article:

The original article requires translation.

The introduction will take place gradually starting in 2024 and will affect thousands of schools and hundreds of thousands of students. Some experimental work has been going on, but the final decision has been postponed a couple of times. There is now a plan from the National Agency for Education.

For it to work, all schools will need the necessary technology and digital skills to be able to complete the tests digitally.

Things principals should keep in mind
School leaders are those who are at the far end of the line with responsibility for implementation. And the list from the National Agency for Education about what principals should think about, in consultation and collaboration with school principals, is long.

Some examples:

Ensure that the development work in digitization is a natural part of the school's systematic quality work.

Ensure that key people in the business take part in and are updated on the possibilities of digitalisation and the development of digital national tests.

Inventory the school's range of digital units and learning resources, both from a teaching perspective and from the perspective of technical prerequisites for digital national exams.

Evaluate the digital competence of students, teachers and other staff.

Create conditions for competence development and knowledge of what support is available, for example through the National Agency for Education.

Ensure that the school's organization can handle common technical problems that may arise when working digitally.

Ensure that the technical support procedures set up prior to the completion of the test are clear to all staff involved at the time of the test, when such information is available.

- As usual, most things fall back on school leaders, it is not reasonable here. The important thing is to create the right conditions. That the principals, school principals, IT departments and other support functions are in the boat is crucial, says Peter Westergård, principal at Rinnebäcksskolan in Kävlinge, member of the Swedish Teachers' Association's school board and the association's work environment council.

"Well rigged for this"
When it comes to his own school, he and his 65 employees feel well prepared.

- We are probably well equipped for this, we have worked hard with digitization for more than ten years and have, among other things, digital learning tablets.

For a few years now, they have been working with Inspera, a technical platform for digital tests, where students are anonymised.

- This makes the grading assessment more legally secure and that is also the advantage of the digital national tests.

The fact that Rinnebäcksskolan was at the forefront of digitalisation has also had another, perhaps a little more unexpected, consequence.

- Our students proved to perform worse in some parts of national tests for some years. It gets a little hard when you suddenly have to do a test by hand, so to speak, he says.

Westergård is basically positive that the national tests will be digital, but it is possible to problematize them. According to current regulations, the results from the national tests must be given special consideration in grading.

- It's about the view of knowledge. If we are only judgment-oriented, we risk influencing the part of learning that is about being curious, creative and being inspired in the entire learning process, says Peter Westergård.


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