Unified school-leaving exams yield worst results ever
Nearly 19 percent of students at Czech secondary schools have this year failed their final examinations. That’s the worst fail rate since unified tests were reintroduced four years ago. The Education Ministry says too many students are taking the exams – but some experts believe they might just be too difficult.
In total, 18.7 percent of the roughly 87,600 students failed the exams, held in April and May at secondary schools across the country. That’s the worst result since 2011 when the unified tests were brought back after a gap of two decades. Education Minister Marcel Chládek believes the fail rate is due to the large numbers of students sitting the exams.
“I don’t think the problem is a sharp increase of the fail rate because in 2012, it was 18.2 percent. The problem is the high fail rate as such. That makes the system no so effective, also financially.
Prior to 2011 each of the country’s 1,300 or so schools designed their own exams. The authorities believed this seriously undermined their value, and also made it difficult to compare individual schools.
But the new system means that students at every secondary school, from elite grammar schools to vocational schools, take the same exam. Minister Chládek is now questioning where future car mechanics and hairdressers really need to prove themselves in the same way as prospective nuclear scientists.
Some experts, however, question the minister’s approach. Ondřej Šteffl is the head of Scio, a leading Czech educational consultancy.
Instead, according to Ondřej Šteffl, the difficulty of the exams should be adjusted. In international testing by the OECD, Czech students did much better in math than in languages, a result contradicted by the results of the school-leaving exams.