In a few weeks, the main session of the external independent evaluation will begin, for which 354,051 people have been registered this year ‒ 18,208 more than last year. The lion’s share is traditionally planning to take a test in the Ukrainian language and Literature ‒ 320,736 registered. The second most popular subject is the History of Ukraine ‒ 232,084 people. The third place is occupied by Mathematics, which this year was chosen by 146,435 applicants. Although the system seems to have been worked out over the years, it does not do without certain nuances. Therefore, Opinion decided to collect the most important information that applicants and their parents should know.
So, the external independent evaluation is right around the corner: this year it will begin on May 21 with testing in Mathematics, which turned out to be in third place in the popularity rating. A considerable number of applicants also chose Biology (81,342 registered) and Geography (80,351 people). But Chemistry continues to lose its position: this year we have 6,490 less people who want to take tests on this subject than there were last year.
The content of certification works, as they convince in the Ukrainian Center for the Evaluation of the Quality of Education, will respond to the EIT programs, approved in 2016. That is, these are actually the same programs that operated the past year. It was on their basis that the test tasks for the EIT-2018 were developed, as well as for the one that applicants will pass now. Assignments in all subjects except Ukrainian language and literature and a block of foreign languages, if necessary, have the translation in six languages of national minorities: Crimean Tatar, Moldovan, Polish, Russian, Romanian and Hungarian. According to the statistics provided by the Ukrainian Center for Educational Quality Assessment, the overwhelming majority of tests are in Ukrainian. The need for test tasks for the History of Ukraine in the languages of national minorities is only 3.62% of the total number of tests, Mathematics ‒ 8.82%, Physics ‒ 11.06%, Chemistry ‒ 8.35%, Biology ‒ 7.22% and Geography ‒ 6.25%.
You also need to complain on time and correctly
It is clear that there is a whole bunch of prohibitions, the violation of which can undermine all preparation for external testing. Let’s say, you cannot just use anything, but even have it with you while you write the answers to the test tasks, any mobile phones (it’s not only about smartphones, but also about the ordinary cellphones, because the rules say: “means of communication”), “devices for reading, processing, storing and reproducing information, as well as individual elements that may be part of the relevant hardware or devices, printed or handwritten materials, other means, objects, devices not provided for by the procedure of the External independent evaluation (except authorized medical products, on the presence of which an external testing participant must notify employees of the EIT point before the start of the work)”. In short, to go there you need to take only a pen if you do not want to immediately get a whole lot of troubles.
In any case, the applicant must remember that if his rights are violated, he is entitled to appeal the result. But here, as they say, the devil is in the details. Take for example last year’s situation with listening in English, when a very large number of applicants almost cried because of a bad sound, but in the end, there were very few real complaints filed with the appeal commission. How do you think, why? Only because the procedure for filing such complaints was not followed.
So, the bureaucracy is everything! Therefore, it is worthwhile to read very carefully in advance on the UCEQA website how to properly appeal the results of the EIT. Also one should take into account that even if you are 100% sure that full nonsense is written in the test task, normative documents do not foresee the possibility of challenging the content of tasks of certification work or the correctness of answers to these tasks. Therefore, as they explain in UCEQA, there will not be appeals on the content of test tasks at a meeting of the Appeals Commission.
However, this does not mean that you need to be silent. On the contrary ‒ it is better to talk about such things immediately after testing. And not just talk, but to write an application with a clear list of errors, register it in your testing point and submit to instructors. And also to pay attention of public observers to this, who are also present at the testing points.
By the way, troubles with listening. As the lawyers with whom Opinion had a talk reminded, all the nuances with the sound that applicants complained about last year also had to be described in the application and registered immediately after the time allotted for one test. As they say, it is necessary to make haste while the sun shines. Also immediately submit this application to the senior instructor, who must be present in the room, where the test took place, or to responsible for a specific EIT point, leaving a copy to yourself as well. It is clear that when you are worried and nervous, you are not up to grab the pen and paper and describe in detail everything that was wrong immediately after testing, but it is very important. That is, such things must be documented on time.
How and when will the EIT system be reformed?
Well, the problems of external independent testing, unfortunately, are not finished with listening troubles. Opinion wrote about this on April 3 of this year in the article “What EIT needs to look like: a unified applicant should not be offered to everyone”. Its main message is that this important, without a doubt, tool in the fight against corruption when enrolling in higher education institutions is gradually turning into a definite brake on the development of the educational system as a whole. In order to find out how the testing system will develop in the near future, we wanted to pose a few questions to the head of the Ukrainian Center for Educational Quality Assessment, Valerii Boyko, who is now acting as the director of the UCEQA.
The main questions for which I really wanted to get answers: how the EIT system will be reformed in the near future, when can we expect changes and how much money will it take? No less important ‒ is there any intention in the near future to separate EIT as an entrance exam to universities from school State final examination and proceed to conduct EIT on the basis of digital technologies, allowing applicants to take tests several times to be able to choose the best result afterward?
Unfortunately, a lively conversation with the new leadership of the UCEQA has not yet happened. But they sent us a written response, where they explained with bureaucratic language that there is a legal framework, which has long been defined. Including on the EIT and the SFE. And the EIT is absolutely not a measure of the quality of education, as some allow themselves to think. “To study the state of education,” Valerii Boyko, the director of the Center, commented to Opinion “at the state level, the following projects are being implemented: an international study of the quality of education PISA-2018, PISA-2021, and a nationwide monitoring study of the quality of primary education.” At the same time, Valerii Boyko continues, the introduction of the New Ukrainian School requires strategic planning of the final grades system at various educational stages.
Therefore, by joint efforts of Ukrainian teachers and international partners, “a project for the preparation of analytical documents and proposals on the system of educational measurements at various levels and stages of education” was founded. According to the head of the UCEQA, “during this year, the preparation and discussion of models for the implementation of educational measurements at the stage of completion by applicants for primary, basic and specialized education will be carried out. The decision to introduce innovations in the field of educational measurements, as well as to finance these innovations, will be made by the central executive body in the field of education in accordance with the strategic plans.”
Оpinion also inquired whether they plan to change the approach to the development of test tasks at the Ukrainian Center. It is a question of replacing tasks requiring simple memorization of a huge amount of information with those that test the ability to use the knowledge gained in practice. Concerning this question, we were reminded that the content of the certification work on academic subjects is determined by the EIT programs approved by the Ministry of Education and Science. As they say, we have what we have, but we are not in a hurry to move forward? “Test assignments of different levels of complexity are developed, taking into account the requirements for the level of general education of students. The UCEQA is constantly working to improve the test tools, in particular, in recent years, the percentage of competency tasks has been significantly increased in tests,” Valerii Boyko explains. And just guess how it works.
Digital technology during the EIT is also not so simple, as it turns out. On the one hand, in the UCEQA they recognize that “testing with the implementation of digital technologies expands the possibilities of external assessment of the level of general education training of graduates of educational institutions, creates conditions for the use of multimedia in test tasks”. On the other hand, they note that this requires equipping test items with the necessary number of computers, and this, according to the head of the Ukrainian Center, “requires substantial financial investments and a political decision.” And in order to get off the ground, Valerii Boyko notes, in the framework of the international study of the quality of education PISA-2021, the Ukrainian center will be the first at the national level to carry out computer assessments. “There will be a pilot stage in 2020,” the specialist says, “and the main stage will be in 2021. The experience will be used by us to study the feasibility and the possibility of disseminating the practice of computer-based evaluations in the field of education.”
On the question of how and when the system of external education will be reformed (many teachers talks about the need for such reform), officials from the UCEQA do not yet have answers. But why they do not engage in it ‒ this is the next question.
By Larysa Vyshynska