Today we conducted our national tests in English. These tests are the government’s attempt to monitor the qualitative progress of schools and their students. State of affairs. There are testing in three subjects; Maths, Norwegian and English. The latter is an online test with reading comprehension with point-and-click multiple choices as well as interactive texts accompanied by visual pictures.

The test in itself is okay, it aims to test the students’ ability to read, reflect and define. Since we are an international school we did fairly well, and the students thought it easy enough.

There has been much debate on these national tests in the media and among politicians in the past few years. Some have argued that it produces “winning” and “loosing” schools, others have added that results can be fixed and that the system is not reliable.

Safety does not mean bureaucracy. There is an excessive amount of paperwork coming out of the Utdanningsdirektoratet, Diractorate of Education and the Ministry of Knowledge (Kunnskapsdepartementet) and, to me, an unnecessary amount of passwords and usernames in order to conduct the test itself. Why is this? And why does not the Ministry of Knowledge, of all (along with Fornyings- og arbeidsdepartementet, earlier Moderniseringsdepartementet – the Ministry of Modernization… puh) have a user-friendly and easy to use website..?

There is an excess of information on these webpages, and it could easily be revitalized and revamped, make it more presentable and readability could be better, not to forget navigation, which is illogical and often looped and irrelevant. It’s simply not good enough.

So how can they be better? Look at what the innovative small companies are doing in terms of design and content, readability and usability. The national test in itself could also include moving images, podcasts, web search (even university students are struggling with research methods and ciatation standards) and generally more interactive challenges for the students. They live in a visual age where intertextuality is omnipresent, but increasinly harder for us to decipher. The Ministry of Knowledge can simultanously make it more visually user-friendly as well as more challenging in the digital age.

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