Olympian students will enter high school without the National Assessment. Education expert: “They don't need to take an exam”

Students who have been awarded at the national or international school olympiads could enter high school without taking the National Assessment exam, according to a project put up for public debate by the Ministry of Education. The opinions of experts in the field are divided.

Olympic students at the Government – Photo Archive

The Methodology Project for the enrollment in the 9th grade, in the 2024-2025 school year of students who obtained good results at the school Olympiads or at international competitions, was put out for consultation by the Ministry of Education. For the first time, it provides that students who won the first prize at the national stage of the school olympiads organized and financed by the Ministry of Education or obtained the first, second or third prizes at international competitions recognized by the Ministry of Education will be able to enroll in high school without going through exam tests at the end of the 8th grade.

Graduates from the current series who wish to participate in the admission to high school education, vocational education and dual education, for the 2024-2025 school year, based on the outstanding performances obtained at the national Olympics or international competitions, during secondary school, can participate in the registration process in the 9th grade, in a single county, without taking the national assessment and without taking the aptitude tests, respectively the modern or native language knowledge verification tests and, respectively, without calculating their admission average”mentions the Ministry of Education.

There are 51 national school olympiads and 22 international olympiads that would allow students to enroll in high school without taking the National Assessment tests.

Opinions are divided

The representative of the Romanian Parents' Federation, Iulian Cristache, told “truth” that he supports the proposal put up for debate by the Ministry of Education, which will encourage students who participate in national and international competitions.

“It's a very good decision, because performance is encouraged. Just as in college, national and international Olympians enter the places provided, so here. If we agree to give merit scholarships even for students with low averages, I don't see why we wouldn't encourage the performance of these children who are learning and some of them don't know what childhood means and are preparing for an exceptional career. As a Federation, we participated in the discussions last year as well, related to this amendment, and we did not oppose, on the contrary, we applauded the decision of the Ministry of Education“, transmitted Iulian Cristache.

Moreover, the parents' representative says that these students must be encouraged by “merit scholarships in an increased amount“.

If Iulian Cristache is delighted with the idea, Education expert Ștefan Vlaston has a different opinion.

In principle, it's not a bad idea, but there are students who won a prize in the math Olympiad, and they might not know Romanian. And then they are too advantaged, no one ensures that they are very well trained in both subjects, certainly many of them can be trained in several disciplines”says the expert.

He argues that Olympian students could “profit”if they are not equally prepared in Romanian and mathematics.

Why take advantage of a very good grade in Romanian, which he got a 10 on the National Assessment anyway, to cheat in mathematics, where maybe he is not good? I would go with the idea to leave it as it is, to give both proofs, because it is not bad. Assuming that in the subject in which he is an Olympian he will get a 10, and in the other he will get a 6, this means that he will go over other students who have a higher average than theirs, and it is not right. There are also some good students in both subjects, but worser”, says the math teacher.

An act of courage by the Ministry of Education

For his part, Education expert Marian Staș believes that the proposal is “excellent, one of the Ministry's few clever ideas“.

The idea is exceptional for two reasons, because it genuinely recognizes excellence, these children do not need to take the National Assessment exam when they reach these stages, no matter what type of discipline. The problem is not about Romanian or mathematics, but about how their heads work, and if they know geography for the international olympiad, they will clearly be able to do high school properly. And the second reason is to objectively validate the potential capacity of these children, especially if they are at the national, international level, because they go to courts where they have nothing to do with what is happening in Romania. One of the extremely few ideas that finally make sense from the Ministry of Education“, explains Marian Staș.

This proposal “it does not hurt“, emphasizes the specialist, considering the small number of students who manage to reach a high level of performance. Nationally, 94 Olympian students entered high school in 2023 based on awards obtained at national and international Olympiads.

In addition, the good part is that this validation takes place under exceptional conditions, incomparable to what the National Assessment means. At the same time, it breaks this vicious circle of Procrustes, that everyone has to go through the same assessment. Not everyone has to do this, never mind, a harsh, ferocious test of educational communism is this story with the national exams. The difference between the communist paradigm and the non-communist paradigm of education is the difference between centralization and subsidiarity“, added the specialist.

The proposal is “an act of courage“, believes the expert, who specifies that students should not be evaluated according to the same criteria.

More than an incentive, it's a recognition, and at that age it's huge, it matters a lot. Philosophy instead of is a very tough touchstone for the Ministry of Education. In other words, we are not all going through the same pitfalls, but the big challenge for the Ministry is to assimilate the principle instead of“, concludes Marian Staș.