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Russia to remove tests from unified state exam procedure

April 10, 2014, 17:00 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
© ITAR-TASS/Vladimir Smirnov

MOSCOW, April 10. /ITAR-TASS/. The future of the unified state examination is again in the focus of the Russians' attention. Starting from next year, rules will be changed fundamentally as it is planned to remove tests from examination procedures and bring back oral exams. This prospect, as everything linked with the examination, evokes absolutely opposite assessments. Some opinions say the experiment of a unified exam has actually failed.

By 2015, part of tests making block A will have been removed. In this section, examinees should choose one answer from four options, Russian Minister of Education and Science Dmitry Livanov said recently. Meanwhile, it is planned to introduce an oral task in all humanities and shift from a written form to a fully electronic format.

The unified exam are secondary education graduation and university entrance tests taken in almost all subjects at all secondary schools. There are few domestic political issues in Russia that have been discussed so heatedly and for such a long time. Debate over whether tests are needed in the unified exam or whether the traditional system of exams that existed before is better has not subsided since 2001, when the unified exam was introduced. Talks became particularly acute in 2008 when the unified procedure was put into practice in all Russian regions.

Scandals over scribbling with use of electronic gadgets, leaking test tasks to the Internet before the exam, violating exam procedures and summarizing exam results have flared up permanently. Absolutely different opinions are being voiced over expected changes.

“Full cancellation of testing tasks may result in the reliability of exam results being distorted,” says Oxana Reshetnikova, director of the Federal Institute of Pedagogical Measurements, developers of the unified test.

Literature teacher and member of the Public Council of the Ministry of Education and Science Sergei Volkov, cited by online news edition, called the future abolition of tests “a bolt from the blue” because this part of the exam “permitted all students to get the mark of three (grade C in Europe's education system).” “But there are those who say that it is high time to cancel tests because they dull the wits and mean further coaching is needed.”

“Tasks with answer options contradicted the Russian educational tradition when instead of resolving tasks, students were just drilled and guessed for replies,” director of the Moscow Center of Continuous Mathematical Education Ivan Yashchenko noted, adding that “a large number of schoolchildren take the unified exam in physics but cannot explain why it is cold in winter and warm in summer.”

Dropping tests in the unified exam and introducing oral exams in all humanities actually means the failure of a years-long experiment, many analysts believe.

Deputy Chairman of the State Duma lower house Education Committee Viktor Shudegov named this decision “a major achievement of the scientific and pedagogical community, teachers and parents who were fighting against the exam, realizing all disadvantages of this system.” “This exam discourages school students from thinking. In essence, the Ministry of Education and Science smoothly gives up the unified procedure this way without losing face,” the lawmaker believes.

“In fact, this is full recognition of abortive undertaking with the unified exam,” Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily quoted corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Education Alexander Abramov as saying. “Nothing will be left from the unified exam, if we call a spade a spade. Because we had been talked all the time into introducing a unified state exam which was formally based on tests, an oral exam will prevent an unfair attitude. And now the time to refuse a testing system has come. This is a historic day when the complete blunder of this 'experiment' is acknowledged,” he added.

Abramov also said a state committee is urgently needed to probe all incidents related to the unified exam to take a reasonable and well-balanced decision. “Today the question is as follows: to carry out a serious, careful and professional reform of the education system or to forget about 25 million highly technological jobs that President Vladimir Putin spoke about,” Abramov noted with confidence.


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