The Parliament wants a special Baccalaureate session to increase the grade. What the experts say

Students who take the Baccalaureate exam, but are not satisfied with the average obtained, could apply for a grade increase. This, to have an extra chance to be admitted to the college they want to attend. It's a legislative proposal being debated in the Senate that, if passed, could open the doors of universities to almost everyone.

Soon, we could have a Baccalaureate with much higher grades. Photo source: archive

In the context where the PISA results place us in first place in Europe for functional illiteracy, and the simulation of the National Exams has shown us that we are at the bottom of the abyss, the elected officials try to embellish the reality as much as they can.

According to a legislative proposal, it could give an extra chance to students with poor grades in the first session, but who still want to be admitted to college.

Specifically, currently, high school graduates who do NOT pass the Baccalaureate have the right to take it again in the following sessions, that is, either in the fall or in the following years. They can take the matriculation exam at the age of 60 if they want.

How could the Baccalaureate be carried out in the future? Students who have passed, but are not satisfied with the obtained average, can present themselves for a grade increase. They might take one or more tests in the hope that they will get better grades and the higher final average will secure them a place in college. The project, which basically proposes to amend the Education Law, provides one more aspect: in case of a re-examination, the grade that will be taken into account will be the highest grade.

It is basically trying to smooth the way to university studies for those who, initially, did not prove that they deserve it.

Baccalaureate of mediocrity, a Pandora's box

Maybe they had a bad day, maybe they didn't feel well, maybe their emotions overwhelmed them, or they just didn't prepare properly. Here are enough reasons why a student can get low results in the Baccalaureate. Therefore, bye-bye the chances of entering college again, if he was going to continue his studies. And it doesn't seem fair that a child's future depends on such an inauspicious moment. The solution? The test in which low grades were obtained can be taken again!

But, say voices in the system, this would open a veritable Pandora's box. “If we think of such a system for the Baccalaureate, a precedent will be created: we will have to think to what extent this phenomenon can roll over to other exams in our lives. We're talking about a college entrance exam that you might want to retake, a bachelor's exam that you also want to retake, we can talk about a master's exam. Basically, that's what the final exam means. Including the National Assessment. This can make the system a bit vulnerable“, said university professor Ovidiu Pânișoara for “Adevărul”. “Think about what it would be like to give the National Assessment on the same principle. A kid who was originally assigned to a tech high school next year goes for a grade upgrade and gets in somewhere else just because the grading changed. We are already introducing a lot of volatility into the system“, added the teacher.

Such a system could have serious long-term consequences. “Think the other way around: that students might become even more disinterested in this exam precisely because they might have the opportunity to fix a bad grade. He would have another chance. That a low grade in a certain subject is not the end of the world after all. This is how children's responsibility will disappear even more”.

A chance for education or a disguised reality?

Academician Mircea Dumitru, former rector of the University of Bucharest, believes that it is, after all, about a second chance that the system could give to high school graduates. “You get sick, you can't concentrate, you have a bad day. Why should your future depend on this inauspicious moment? In America, for example, the SAT exam can be taken several times, and depending on the score you are or are not admitted to the university. There are some international models. So it is possible. It would be, after all, an extra chance at education“, he stated for “Adevărul”. Now, the specialist says, assessments are much looser than they were 10-20 years ago. Today's exams are not as tough as they were in the past. The system is more flexible, more permissive, more modern, meets the needs of students. Therefore, in his opinion, it would be nothing out of the ordinary to have a Baccalaureate with increased marks. And yet: “But if someone in the summer got a 7 and doesn't want to raise their grade, and someone else got a 5 but raised it to a 9, then we might have a problem in the sense that it wouldn't be fair. Because in September, they both take the same college exam“, stated Prof. Mircea Dumitru.

Helping only the mediocre would not be fair to the good and very good students, says Sorin Hoară, university assistant at the Aurel Vlaicu University in Arad. “For those who haven't learned, the pig doesn't get fat on Eve. It's hard to believe that a student with low grades can make up a lot from summer to fall. A higher Baccalaureate grade in the next session could therefore come from pure luck. Either you skimp on the subject, or the subjects are more accessible, or you insisted more on those chapters… the idea is that you could score a higher grade, which perhaps you wouldn't actually deserve. And it wouldn't be fair to those who worked harder than you for the summer exam and got a lower grade than your current grade after the retest. And who didn't ask for a raise. Or, worse, it is possible that many students want to go to the higher education for fear that someone else will take their place“.

On the other hand, the idea of ​​taking an exam for a grade increase can be understood, says Sorin Hoară. “I get the point, just can't agree. There are moments in life when an exam is defining. And a precedent would be created: the National Assessment, the License… Let's not forget that the Baccalaureate is a life exam, which you take and for which you must prepare“.

And we will witness another phenomenon, says Sorin Hoară: we will have very good students, with high grades, but in the international PISA assessments we will record the worst results. This bill is another way we steal our own hat. “Because our rating system will not reflect reality. On the contrary. It will mask it“.

Better prepare for this moment

I don't think this is the solution. The solution would be to prepare children more intensively for this moment in their lives and to motivate them more for what follows, so that the learning effort is constant, strong and gives good results the first time.“, says Prof. Ovidiu Pânișoara.

It is important, continues the teacher, to return to what this Baccalaureate exam means and “to motivate our students. We pursue an end in itself, unfortunately, from this grading, instead of being primarily interested in how and how students learn. Unfortunately, this societal mentality is passed on to kids who run after high grades. It's a trend we have to shake off, something pervasive at the system level. Because a grade of 10 does not guarantee that the student really is a grade 10“.

Through the draft law currently under debate by the senators, it is proposed to modify the currently existing rules for taking the Baccalaureate exam, contained in Law 198/2023 on pre-university education.

In order to be applied, the draft law must be adopted in Parliament, promulgated by presidential decree and published in the Official Gazette.