On November 12 the Education Ministry of Ukraine launched the first monitoring of the quality of school education for fifth- and  tenth-grade pupils. Thus, within one month fifth-grade pupils of all comprehensive secondary schools must take five tests - math, Ukrainian, Russian, a foreign language and a mixed test (Me and Ukraine/Legal method). Tenth-grade pupils must take 12 tests - the Ukrainian language, a foreign language, history of Ukraine, world history, the Ukrainian literature, geometry, algebra, biology, chemistry, physics, geography and technologies.

The decision on monitoring was made back in summer. The official goal of the project is to evaluate the education system and control the quality of provided knowledge. The test volume includes ten variants of tests, different in form and complexity. Every pupil will take one variant of the tests.
The Education Ministry states that participating in the monitoring will help both students and their parents to get full and unbiased information about results of education, as well as to assist to improvement of the education system in general.

ForUm has asked experts to comment on the initiative:

Volodymyr Kovtunets, MP of the second parliament, coordinator of the program on assistance to External Independent Testing in Ukraine:

- Monitoring is a good thing. There are proved methods of such monitoring, and it is a common practice in the world. However, the way it is made in Ukraine doesn't stand up to scrutiny. Results of the monitoring are supposed to help the government to correct and improve the education policy if there are any gaps. At the same time, these results may be used against the very teachers, and the latter understand it and fear it. Thus, to make results appear higher they might help students to pass the test. Thus, this monitoring may turn out biased and ineffective. 

Vitalina Dzoz, MP (Party of Regions), head of the subcommittee on secondary education of the parliamentary committee on science and education:

- I am sure that monitoring of school education among fifth- and  tenth-grade pupils is actual and timely innovation. Control is an integral part of academic activities. You must admit that nobody objects control works or exams. And monitoring of school education is just a way to estimate the state of the education system and get full and unbiased information about education quality. 

I am also sure that the results of the monitoring will be useful for all: for pupils and their parents to learn weak points and prepare to exams, for teachers to learn about what subjects are difficult for children and to focus on them in the future, for the government to reveal the gaps in the system. Moreover, tests are available on the website of the Ministry, and pupils can print them out at home and get prepared. At the same time, children know that results of the monitoring will not be registered in student progress reports, thus there is nothing to fear.

Yulia Semenko, mother of fifth- and tenth-grade pupils:

- Every possibility to review and reinforce skills is good. Moreover, pupils learn not to be afraid of tests and exams. At the same time, to make this monitoring effective, teachers must minimize the risks of tipping and cheating. It won't hurt to control teachers as well. The state must control those  it pays salary to.

In general, the idea is good, but its success depends on how it is realized.

Stanyslav Nikolayenko, ex-minister of education and science:

-The idea itself is good, but it must be realized through independent centers to get unbiased results. The way it is being made now is inefficient. They publish tasks and tests, and then they publish answers to them. What does it mean? Buy our tests, copy them and send us the correct answers? Answers should not have been published in the first place. The Ministry should have focused on tasks only.

Moreover, this monitoring must also cover pupils of fourth and ninth grades, and there is no need to test every subject, but to take for example the Ukrainian language and math for fourth-grade students, and the language, literature, math and history for ninth- and tenth-grade pupils.

Thus, as I said, the idea is good, but it has not been thought through.

Alla Seletska, expert on education:

- Assessment of knowledge is a necessary thing and a common practice in the world, though in Ukraine we might need to reconsider the age of pupils and subjects of the test. Speaking about the world practice, the tests are usually taken on mathematics and language among children at the age of 10 and 15.

Ihor Likarchuk, director of Ukrainian center on education quality estimation, Doctor of Education, professor:

- Monitoring of education quality is a must, but not in the way the Education Ministry intends to do it. Moreover, fifth- and tenth-grade pupils have already taken recently the State Final Examination, during which the Ministry could have checked their knowledge.


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