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  • StodumatJan2021

A new tool to map strengths, knowledge and experience

20. Jan 2021

Three municipalities offer all schools in Iceland, free of charge, a new tool to map strengths, knowledge and experience of students of foreign origin 

From the autumn of 2016, the municipalities of Árborg, Hafnarfjörður and Reykjanesbær have been working together on translating and adapting an evaluating tool with the objective to get a picture of the student's knowledge and educational background. The focus is on the student's strengths, knowledge and experience of students of foreign origin in their mother tongue.  At the end of 2018, Fellaskóli in Reykjavík joined the collaboration. 

Assessment tool for foreign students

The tool is hosted on the website of the Directorate of Education and the agency also applied for the translation rights to the National Agency for Education in Sweden. The material is open to everyone ( Assessment tool for foreign students | Menntamálastofnun (mms.is ).

There has been a need for an assessment tool for students of foreign origin. The project aims to build on the strengths and enhance students' learning skills and to respond to individual's learning needs as soon as possible through early assessment and targeted intervention in the early stages of schooling in a new country. Emphasis is placed on considering the assessment as a tool not an examination and the assessment is divided into three levels: 

Level 1 - previous knowledge and experience: 

Support schools in assess students in terms of previous knowledge and experience. The results of the assessment make it easier for the schools to plan the student's studies based on his / her strengths and needs. Examine the student's previous knowledge and experience, e.g. regarding language skills, schooling, strengths, etc. 

Level 2 - literacy and numeracy:

Literacy: Examine where the student is in their language in literacy. 

Level 3 - Subjects: 

Examine the student's skills in the school's subjects, e.g. English, history, biology, mathematics, etc. Provides evidence of the student's previous skills and a basis for organising appropriate learning and teaching. 

Many schools already use the assessment tool 

A group has led this important development work. From Árborg: Aneta Figlarska, counsellor in teaching children of foreign origin, Hrund Harðardóttir, teaching counsellor and Þorsteinn Hjartarson, division manager. From Hafnarfjörður: Fanney Dóróthe Halldórsdóttir, head of department, Kristrún Sigurjónsdóttir, multicultural teaching consultant and Þórdís Helga Ólafsdóttir, ex. special education representative for primary schools, now a teacher at Borgarholtsskóli. From Reykjanesbær: Halldóra Fríða Þorvaldsdóttir, project manager in Icelandic as a second language, Helgi Arnarson, division manager and Kolfinna Njálsdóttir, department manager of school services.

The project has received funding from the Sprotasjóður and following courses, which the group has organized, the assessment tool has been used in many schools in Iceland, such as in Árborg, Hafnarfjörður, Reykjanesbær and Reykjavík. More municipalities that are taking the first steps have received courses in implementation. Two upper secondary schools, Borgarholtsskóli and Fjölbrautarskóli Suðurlands, have stated to use the assessment tool, and more are considering its implementation. 

See also the news about the assessment tool on the website of the Ministry of Education and Culture