Baccalaureate exam, written test at Mediocrity. How will the summer exam be

The Ministry of Education has analyzed in detail the results of the students in the Baccalaureate simulation, and following the conclusions, the officials come up with an at least controversial measure: the summer exam will be easier! The reason? The children's level is very low. But, looking at things as a whole, at the level of the education system, the situation becomes even more dramatic: we are stealing our own hats, some teachers believe.

Baccalaureate subjects could be easier compared to the simulation ones. Photo source: archive

The baccalaureate will have simpler subjects, easier to solve, accessible even to students with grades below 5 in the spring simulation of the exam. It is the veiled announcement of the Ministry of Education which, after analyzing in detail, by subject, the results of high schools in the simulation, realized that the situation is not serious, but even dramatic! Let's not forget that almost 40% of the students did not get a passing grade in Romanian Language and Literature, and 35% got passing grades in Mathematics.

The announcement could be good news for underprepared students who would have a chance at a higher grade this summer. But, at the level of the educational system, the decision would do nothing but perpetuate the non-value that we should try to get rid of. What do we do instead? We sink deeper into mediocrity. In Romanian, we steal our own hats.

Ruxandra Achim is a Romanian language teacher at the “IL Caragiale” National College in Bucharest. The teacher told us that he was an evaluator at the spring simulation, and of the almost 90 papers he corrected, more than half got grades below 5. We asked her what she thought about the ministry's decision to tame the subjects, and the answer was sharp: “We have some evaluation criteria, they must remain as such. Yes, we are taking the pulse, we are still adjusting certain issues, but I think it is not in the favor of the education system to make this exam easier than it already is”. His arguments are indisputable. “A reduction in the degree of difficulty would not be very fair, because the Baccalaureate is the admission criterion for many faculties. And then an artificial increase in averages will be created and, of course, the competition will no longer be fair in any way“. And let's not forget a very important aspect: we disfavor the peaks, the teacher believes. “For example, a student with a score of 8 on the mock, if given easier subjects in the summer, could score a 10. A student who scored a 10 on the mock… will score the same on the exam. And then, where is the tie that should be made between them? Children who actually make learning a goal will be affected. They are, however, students who learn for pleasure. We can't index them and sacrifice them because there are some who treated the simulation with disinterest“, explained the teacher.

It is of the opinion that the exam should remain at the same level of difficulty. The students, on the other hand, are the ones who should be more interested. “No one said that this version of the exam is perfect. Any formula is perfectable, but I really don't think it's appropriate to endlessly encourage mediocrity. I understand that we need a little more openness because we are in an election year, but education must not be the victim of the political class, caught in the middle in the rush for votes.”

Dilemma: Easier bac or more demanding students?

Iulian Cristache, the president of the Federation of Parents, told “Adevărul” that the intention of the ministry is not to be condemned. On the contrary. “To declare such a thing… me, if I had been minister, I wouldn't have stated that. But it is a truth and we must not condemn the truth. Every year, the simulations made it more difficult to see where the students from the rural areas are in particular. The moment you give the simulation some subjects of difficulty a little above average and you see that those from the rural areas capsize, they are far below grade 5, you definitely need to calibrate the subjects“, he specified.

Ruxandra Achim, from the position of the man on the other side of the chair, contradicts the father's statement. “Nu is necessarily related to rural areas, because students from urban education, from large cities, do not learn eitherseh”. The teacher believes that the students had poor results in the simulation because they did not take the exam very seriously. For example, the teacher confessed to us that there were few who prepared for the third subject, the essay. “In March, there are not many students who perfectly master the three subjects. Many do not study for the essay and do not write anything on the subject. From the start I lose 3 points. Suddenly, the starting grade was no longer 10, but 7“, she explained.

Iulian Cristache believes that the level of knowledge acquired during the four years of high school should also be taken into account for rural students. And if the level is low, then “let's not condemn those children, who have no fault that in 30 years the educational system fails to do anything for them. We do not have standardization in teaching, learning and assessment. Therefore, subjects must be made for a middle level, including children who do not have quality human resource, do not have infrastructure, do not have logistics and last but not least, are not supported by families. They have no one to support them in the educational process, no one to help them at home with their homework. And they don't have money for meditation either. If we look at things from this point of view, the ministry's approach is correct“, said the father.

In the city, the situation is a little different, he continues. The standard of living is higher compared to the rural area, people – more oriented towards education and culture, more responsible regarding the children's future. In rural areas, however, and especially in disadvantaged ones, school dropouts are at their peak, and the results of students in education are far below the level of those recorded in big cities. Where there is poverty, there is no education. “In the big city it is not a problem. There are many parents standing behind the children here. I mean counseling and meditations. While the children from the countryside… what do we do with them?Iulian Cristache asks himself.

Therefore, we should know the length of our noses, as they say. This is the level, with which we parade. And we should no longer hide behind our fingers: students are poorly prepared, and the matriculation exam should be aimed at the majority. Be accessible to everyone.

You have to give some subjects that a child from the village, hardworking, good at learning, can solve at least 5 or 6. And then it is absolutely normal to come up with a slightly different approach: subject one should be easier, of below average level, the second subject should be for intermediate level and the last subject may be of high difficulty, in such a way that it makes the real difference between the marks of 9 and 10. The subjects must have a gradual difficulty”, is the opinion of Iulian Cristache.

However, Professor Ruxandra Achim comes up with another proposal. “Instead of having an easy Baccalaureate, we'd better try to determine the students to learn. To put their stomachs on the book, to put in the effort, to work for a high mark and not to wait for an easy exam to be handed to them on a tray, ready to pass, even though many of them wouldn't deserve it .”

Reality or just a conspiracy theory?

Marian Staș, an expert in educational policies, is circumspect about the announcement of the ministry officials. The specialist believes that we should not fall into the trap of conspiracy theories, and the ministry's statement should not be interpreted negatively. “I think the message could also have another connotation, namely to see which are the most suitable subjects for the upcoming Baccalaureate exam“, he explained to “Adevărul”. “I would have a spare dram of a sane person and I would not directly take the message that the subjects will necessarily be easier. In an election year, on the other hand, the messages have this note, let it be good so that it is not bad, so that the world does not panic, etc. I think, however, that the most relevant criterion for what honesty and integrity of the Ministry of Education means will remain the set of topics from the summer. These people may have wanted to see what the most suitable topics are. Not the easiest, the most suitable. Which seems very OK to me“, the specialist also specified.