Numbers assessment system returns to Finland’s schools

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The Finnish National Agency for Education on Tuesday backtracked its 2014 decree and announced that the mandatory use of numbers in assessing the achievements of pupils returns to Finnish schools from school year four.

The 2014 decree stipulated that the numbers assessment would not be necessary until in grade eight and verbal descriptions will work instead.

The return of the numbers assessment came after complaints by teachers and families, according to the agency.

Leena Nissila, a councellor at the National Agency of Education told national broadcaster Yle on Tuesday that the “verbal appraisals may have been different in different schools”, adding that parents have “had difficulty in interpreting what they tell about the achievements of the pupil.”

According to Nissila, “too much variation in the assessments” also caused problems in applying for secondary level education.

In an official release from the National Agency for Education, Erja Vitikka, Councellor of Eduction at the Agency, said that “Assessments will be now based explicitly on the learning targets in various subjects”. She elaborated that the self assessments by students or the assessments by their schoolmates can no longer be mixed with the assessment the teachers have given.

“It is good that the reform underlines the importance of formative appraisal of the pupil and the feedback that supports the learning process,” Jaakko Salo, the head of development at the Finnish Trade Union of Education (OAJ) said in the release, welcoming the return.

The Finnish numbers assessment system for pupils ranges from 4 to 10. In recent years a national definition of competence level existed for number 8 only. The Finnish National Agency for Education said it will define the “competence levels” for numbers 5, 7 and 9 in various subjects in 2020. Enditem

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