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Leveraging large-scale assessments for effective and equitable school practices: The case of the Nordic countries

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Special issue editors:

Nani Teig, Univeristy of Olso - Lead Guest Editor
Isa Steinmann, University of Olso - Lead Guest Editor

What makes a school practice effective and equitable for all students? The answer to this question is the Holy Grail of educational research. Researchers seek  to find out how different aspects of school systems—including teacher competence, school characteristics, and educational policies—can be optimized to provide excellent learning opportunities across different groups of students. New knowledge about effective and equitable school practices is essential for evidence-based policymaking that focuses on improving student outcomes and closing the gap in educational inequality. The implementation of national and international large-scale assessments has opened manifold unique research opportunities that contribute to answering this question. Many of these research endeavors require large datasets that encompass numerous schools and allow comparisons across countries or developments over time. Large-scale assessments collect valuable repeated-measurement data using representative samples, which offers the potential to inform educational policy and practice based on generalizable findings.

This special issue aims at utilizing both national and international large-scale assessments to gain a better understanding of what makes school practices effective and equitable. The use of Nordic countries as a showcase is crucial, since these countries have very similar historical, cultural, and economic characteristics, which implies that schools and teachers work under somewhat comparable conditions. Nevertheless, the Nordic countries show very different results in the large-scale assessments across subject areas and trends over time. These results indicate that the Nordic education systems are not as similar as one might expect. The special issue will therefore offer valuable knowledge about effective and equitable school practices from this showcase of the Nordic countries. The knowledge drawn from the Nordic showcase will also be relevant for international education systems. Given the recent sharp increase in educational inequalities due to the pandemic, such knowledge takes an even greater urgency than ever before.


  1. Given the ongoing development of computer-based tasks, there has been increasing interest in modelling students’ behaviour indicators from log file data with contextual variables collected via questionnaires. ...

    Authors: Denise Reis Costa and Chia-Wen Chen
    Citation: Large-scale Assessments in Education 2023 11:5
  2. Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) focuses on the reading proficiency of students mostly in the fourth year of schooling. A wide selection of studies has shown that family background and ...

    Authors: Kaisa Leino, Kari Nissinen and Marjo Sirén
    Citation: Large-scale Assessments in Education 2022 10:25
  3. The current study investigates school contextual effects on students’ academic self-concept and achievement, that is, peer socioeconomic effect and big-fish-little-pond effect (BFLPE), in four Nordic education...

    Authors: Kajsa Yang Hansen, Jeléna Radišić, Yi Ding and Xin Liu
    Citation: Large-scale Assessments in Education 2022 10:16
  4. Gaining knowledge of what contextual factors may contribute to changes in student achievement across cycles of international large-scale assessments (ILSA), is important for educational policy and practice. Ad...

    Authors: Trude Nilsen, Hege Kaarstein and Anne-Catherine Lehre
    Citation: Large-scale Assessments in Education 2022 10:15
  5. Teacher-student interactions are crucial in understanding the role of a supportive climate in instructional practices. The present study investigates the perceptions of 15-year-old Nordic students regarding fo...

    Authors: Anubha Rohatgi, Ove E. Hatlevik and Julius K. Björnsson
    Citation: Large-scale Assessments in Education 2022 10:12
  6. A variety of studies point to a deterioration of educational equity in Sweden and increasing school segregation with respect to achievement and socioeconomic composition. Some schools are resilient to socioeco...

    Authors: Deborah Elin Siebecke and Maria Jarl
    Citation: Large-scale Assessments in Education 2022 10:11

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Large-scale Assessments in Education is fully sponsored by IERI – International Educational Research Institute, and the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) that focuses on improving the science of large-scale assessments. Authors do not need to pay an article-processing charge.