Social background has an impact on results

The marks of pupils that completed lower secondary education in 2009 vary significantly in relation to both gender and social background. Differences associated with parental level of education are most evident in theoretical subjects.

Results in lower secondary schools vary across the different subjects. While the average overall achievement mark is 4.4 in food and health and physical education, it is almost one mark lower in mathematics. On average, the marks in written examinations are lower than the overall achievement marks for the same subject, whereas the opposite is the case for marks in oral examinations. In general, girls achieve better results than boys in all subjects, apart from physical education. This gender difference is also evident in the attainment of lower secondary school points, where boys on average get 37.6 points and girls get 41.5 points. The average for all pupils is 39.5 school points.

Distribution of overall achievement marks in mathematics, by parents' educational attainment level. All pupils, 2009

Correlation with parental level of education most apparent in mathematics

An obvious positive relation can be observed between pupils’ school results and by their parents’ level of education. On average, the number of attained school points ranged from 33.6 points for pupils whose parents had the least education, to 45.6 points for pupils whose parents had long tertiary education. The differences related to social background are least evident in practical subjects like food and health, arts and crafts and physical education, and most evident in theoretical subjects. The biggest differences are found in mathematics, where 32 per cent of pupils whose parents have tertiary education get the marks 5 or 6, whereas only 12 per cent of children whose parents have no tertiary education achieve the highest marks. In this last group, almost a third of the pupils get the marks 1 or 2, in contrast to approximately one out of ten children by parents with tertiary education.

Differences between pupils in public and private schools

Pupils who attend private schools have higher average overall achievement marks in English, mathematics and first choice form of Norwegian than pupils who attend public schools. In both English and first choice form of Norwegian, the average overall achievement mark for pupils in private schools is 4.1, whereas it is 3.8 in mathematics. The same figures for pupils in public schools are 3.8 in English and first choice form of Norwegian, and 3.4 in mathematics. These differences appear to be smaller in written examinations. The average result for pupils in private schools is 4 in the English written examination, 3.5 in the first choice form of Norwegian examination and 3.6 in the mathematics examination, while pupils in public schools averagely get 3.8 in the English examination and 3.4 in the examinations in first choice form of Norwegian and mathematics.

The differences in the results of pupils in private schools and pupils in public schools are least significant within the group of children whose parents have tertiary education. Children of parents without tertiary education on average attain somewhat higher marks in private schools than in public schools.

Immigrant pupils score lower than other pupils

On average, immigrants get lower marks than other pupils. The difference is most apparent in first-choice form of Norwegian and written English, where immigrant pupils on average get the overall achievement mark 3.2, compared to an average of 3.9 for pupils whose parents are not immigrants. Norwegian-born pupils to immigrant parents on average score higher than immigrant pupils, but slightly lower than other pupils. The differences between the three immigration categories are smallest in second choice-form of Norwegian, where immigrants on average get the overall achievement mark 3.4, and Norwegian-born pupils to immigrant parents and other pupils get 3.7.

Average lower secondary school points, by immigration category and country background. 2009

There are pronounced variations in the average marks of pupils with different country backgrounds within the two groups ‘immigrant pupils’ and ‘Norwegian-born pupils with immigrant parents’. It is particularly immigrant pupils and Norwegian-born pupils to immigrant parents from country group 21 who attain fewer school points than other pupils.

Lower secondary school points can be viewed as a combined measurement for all marks. The lower secondary school point score summarises the pupil’s results in all the different subjects, and is part of the admission criteria for upper secondary school. A pupil’s school points are calculated by adding up each individual mark attained (overall achievement or examination), represented by numbers. This outcome is then divided by the number of marks, resulting in an average mark. The final score is calculated by multiplying this average, with two decimals, by 10. If the pupil has attained marks in less then half of his/her subjects, the lower secondary school point score is set to zero. In these statistics, pupils with zero school points are excluded.

1 Country group 1= EU/EEA, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Country group 2 = Africa, Latin-America, Oceania except Australia and New Zealand, and Europe except EU/EEA.

Read more at Statistics Norway.

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