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Norway: decline in learner absence from upper secondary school

An absence limit in upper secondary school was introduced in 2016-17. To receive their grades, learners’ absence per subject should not exceed 10%; in special cases, the school principal may adjust the limit to 15%. The absence limit applies to undocumented absence, not that due to documented illness, organisational work, or political assignment.

Preliminary figures show that absence has fallen sharply after the introduction of the limit; 40% in number of days and 33% in number of hours. The average per learner was three days or eight hours absence during the current school year, compared to five days and 12 hours the previous school year. More learners have received their grades and completed the education.

More learners receive their grades

Many feared that the absence limit would lead to more learners failing to receive their grades and more leaving the education. Preliminary figures show the opposite. From the previous school year there is a slight decline in the proportion of learners who do not receive a subject grade: from 3.2 to 3.1 per cent. There is also a slight reduction in learners who leave education, compared to the two previous school years.

Reduced absence from VET

Absence has fallen mostly among learners in vocational education and training (VET), from six to three days and to seven hours. It is lower than the average absence in general education (three days and nine hours).

Traditionally most learners drop out of school from VET. While it is too early to say if the absence limit will affect the trend in the longer term, preliminary figures are positive.

Decline in all counties

Absence has decreased in all counties, but the decline in number of days is the greatest in Oslo and Finnmark with a reduction from seven to three per learner (over 50% reduction).  There are major differences between the counties and how the schools follow up learners with high absence. This will be further monitored and evaluated.

A final evaluation report will be delivered in 2019.