In recent years, exclusion rates in PISA have risen in many countries, including a sharper-than-average rise in Norway. This article focuses on Norway’s experience with exclusion rates in PISA, including an analysis tracking this increase between 2000 and 2018. Through interviews with key stakeholders, this article explores several ideas that might explain why Norway’s exclusion rates have risen so dramatically. Key findings revealed that Norway’s exclusion rates may be high because there is a distinction between using the terms ‘exemption’ and ‘exclusion’ in Norway, so exempting students is interpreted to be much softer and kinder in Norway. Interviews also revealed a high degree of school leader subjectivity in determining student participation, and that many Norwegian school leaders made decisions to promote student feelings of mastery and minimize feelings of defeat. Interviews revealed that many Norwegian school leaders see excluding students as positive and beneficial, and are not concerned with its effects on test representativeness and validity.
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