how end-of-school exams work in Belgium, UK and Germany

In France, 520,000 high school students take the Bac de Philosophie test on Wednesday, June 15. Since the reform in 2019, the baccalaureate grade is 40% based on continuous assessment and 60% on final exams (written and oral French, passed in premiere class, philosophy, special exams and the major oral test, passed in Terminale). Also in Belgium, the United Kingdom and Germany, year-end exams exist in different forms. Overview

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In Belgium, end-of-year exams are disrupted by teacher shortages

At the moment, end-of-year exams are taking place and in some places they are disrupted by the teacher shortage. Events have even been canceled in Wallonia and Flanders. The Belgian press reports cancellations on both sides of the language border. In the Belgian daily newspaper the free one we can for example read the testimony of this professor of physics who was absent several times this year for health reasons and who was not sufficiently replaced. He explains that in the 4th general option Science, the equivalent of the second, his students didn’t have enough lessons to be evaluated in the final exam, which he canceled because of that. But we are not talking about the equivalent of the baccalaureate. In Belgium, students are assessed in June at the end of almost every cycle. There are also no massive cancellations of exams, the government defends itself and points more to problems related to certain subjects such as languages ​​or geography.

Yet this situation illustrates the teacher shortage, which is a major problem, especially in Flanders. According to the Federation of Private Schools, which represents 2,400 schools for nearly one million children and adolescents, certain subjects were not taught for an entire period this year due to a lack of teachers.

In Belgium, the recruitment of retired teachers or students who have not yet graduated is allowed under certain conditions. What largely explains this phenomenon is the increase in the school population, which has increased by almost 5% over the past ten years.

In the UK, a test experiment 100% digital for the patent

The young Englishmen have resumed the path of the exam centers since mid-May, after two years without a baccalaureate or patent, and therefore return to the classical diploma. Yet two thousand five hundred students are taking a double exam this year. One hundred institutions have been selected to participate in an experiment that will not replace real research. The 2,500 lucky candidates will therefore have to take a “fake” English, Science and Mathematics test online in addition to their “real” certificate. The test is overseen by the AQA, the organization that oversees the patent and baccalaureate degree.

The test is presented as progressive. That is, the difficulty of the questions asked must be adapted to the answers the candidate has already given for: in the end give him a grade as close to his level as possible. Even though the director of the AQA hopes to put an end to the ultra-ceremonial atmosphere of the patent, the baccalaureate, the 100% digital questionnaire will still be administered in an institution or examination center. The experiment should last three years.

The exam supervisor hopes to make such exams the norm from 2025 for many reasons. If the systems had been deployed before the pandemic, there would have been no need to cancel exams two years in a row. Technology would make it possible to deal with the unexpected. There’s this idea of ​​accuracy, as we said, adapting to the candidate’s level. Then there is the ecological argument. Between the 12 million printed sheets of paper, the delivery of copies, the packaging: more than 600 tons of CO2 and 30 tons of plastic could be saved per year. But even if the experiment turns out to be conclusive, there will always be a written dimension to the year-end exams. The organizers would like to preserve the handwriting skills of middle and high school students.

In Germany it is certain to obtain the baccalaureate in Lander. easier

There is no system in Germany that is equivalent to that of national education. Education is the exclusive responsibility of the Länder. As a result, students from one country to another are not equal when it comes to the baccalaureate degree. In some regions, such as Bavaria, it is difficult to obtain. Students feel wronged for their admission to universities. Depending on the region they come from, not all students have the same chances of earning the baccalaureate degree.

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On average, 51% of Germans have a baccalaureate degree and can therefore study at university. But the regional differences are large. In Hamburg, 55% of an age group has the baccalaureate, compared to only 32% in Bavaria. Of course, that doesn’t mean that Bavarian students are worse off at school. But simply that the system is much more difficult, the students there are more heavily marked and therefore less likely to go to a university, a path that remains very elitist in the country. Keep in mind that the apprenticeship system in Germany is much more developed than in France, and that it often remains the royal road to the labor market.

Of course, there are criticisms of these inequalities. Especially because the consequences are serious. You should know that in Germany, only the baccalaureate grade determines the chances of getting a university place in the most in-demand subjects such as medicine, architecture, law, etc. Not only are Bavaria less likely to get the baccalaureate, but those who pass generally have lower grades than northern Germans. However, the demand for medicine is so great that only students who have completed a baccalaureate degree with a grade of 20 out of 20 stand a chance of a place in a medical school. Just because you come from a supposedly difficult high school doesn’t mean you have a better chance of pursuing a more prestigious degree in Germany.

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