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Shortcomings in the work to prevent the dissemination of national tests

The audit of the Swedish National Audit Office indicates that the Swedish National Agency for Education has had great difficulty in dealing with the increasing dissemination of national tests. Improvements have been made in the course of 2018, but certain measures will not be in place until 2019.

Students taking an exam.

Photo: PLAINPICTURE

National tests are carried out in primary and secondary schools and adult education programmes (including Swedish Tuition for Immigrants). The tests function as a support for teachers when determining grades. A change in the law from 2018 underlines the importance of test results for pupils’ grades.

In recent years it has become increasingly common for national tests to be leaked in advance, and principals and head teachers have repeatedly been forced to use substitute tests. The Swedish National Audit Office has therefore examined the efforts of the Swedish National Agency for Education and the Swedish Schools Inspectorate to prevent the unauthorised dissemination of national tests.

The audit shows that the Swedish National Agency for Education lacked a systematic risk management process and did not sufficiently investigate possible measures when national tests began to leak more extensively. The shortcomings of the Swedish National Agency for Education’s risk management became most evident in 2017, when a record number of tests were disseminated.

“It was not until 2018 that the Swedish National Agency for Education developed a suitable process based on systematic and comprehensive risk analysis. The next step is to follow up and verify that the measures lead to a reduced risk of dissemination,” says Auditor General Helena Lindberg.

“This issue is important, because the tests are of great importance to the pupils’ grades. The dissemination risks damaging the legitimacy of the tests and confidence in the grading,” explains Auditor General Helena Lindberg.

It is assessed that since the autumn of 2018, the Swedish National Agency for Education has had the tools necessary to systematically analyse the risks of unauthorised dissemination, as well as preparedness and procedures to minimise the damage if dissemination were to occur.

However, one remaining deficiency is that there are no clear guidelines for whether and when the police are to be contacted in the event of unauthorised dissemination. So far, the police reports that have been made have not led to any legal action. Reasons for this include the inability to prove that a crime has been committed.

By 2022, the Swedish National Agency for Education must have digitised the tests. However, this does not mean that efforts to prevent dissemination can come to a standstill.

“Regardless of the test format, the Swedish National Agency for Education needs to analyse the risks at all stages of the handling of the tests, develop accurate measures and collaborate with the Swedish Schools Inspectorate, the police, and schools,” says Elin Sundberg, project manager for the audit.

The Swedish National Audit Office finds that the Swedish Schools Inspectorate’s supervision and quality auditing of the tests are carried out in accordance with that authority's mission, but notes that adult education programs have not yet been covered. This is despite the fact that there is an increased risk of the unauthorised dissemination in adult education, where the test periods are longer than in primary and secondary schools.

Recommendations

The Swedish National Audit Office recommends, inter alia, that the Swedish National Agency for Education ensure that implemented measures to reduce the risk of unauthorised dissemination are followed up on and assessed, and that it clarify when and how the Swedish Schools Inspectorate or the Swedish Police Authority should be notified.

It is recommended that the Swedish Schools Inspectorate further investigate the need for supervision of the handling of the national tests carried out in adult education programs.

Press contact: Olle Castelius, phone: +46 8-5171 40 04.

Presskontakt: , telefon: 08-5171 42 06.

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Updated: 25 January 2019

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