To date, few observational studies have addressed Scandinavian school inspectors in the field, specifically how inspectors use templates to monitor the formative assessment routines of schools and local school authorities. This paper investigates how the current inspection handbook is being adopted and enacted on the municipal level and the school level in Norwegian compulsory schools. Specifically, this study illuminates through observation two empirical examples of how one of the 17 County Governors’ Offices, as part of a larger study, conducted regular, state school inspection. Conceptually, the paper focuses on how inspection guides and steers though use of fixed templates. Analysis shows that inspectors and schools under scrutiny are struggling in combining the traditional focus on legal compliance with a more performative emphasis on formative assessment of students. In addition, the examples given highlight how combining field observation and the concept of “governing by templates” contributes to school inspection studies, in a dynamic policy context undergoing substantial change.
This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Journal of Educational Change. The final authenticated version is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10833-017-9295-y