Soren Combino, Minister of Education, launched the new education bill last week, and students in pre-university education will face major changes.
For example, students who start seventh grade this fall 2022 can move on to ninth grade in 2024 with an entrance examination taken directly at national colleges.
Gaby Bartik, Brio CEO, spoke to Ziare.com about some of the most important changes introduced by the new draft law, noting its strengths and weaknesses.
Ziare.com: How do you see the National Assessment turning into an elective test and replacing the test with an exam that is taken directly at national colleges, without high school results at all?
Gaby Bartik: I don’t think many people know, but the National Assessment Exam couldn’t be mandatory even before. Because participation or non-participation in it cannot require the participation of the student in the entire course of compulsory education. The National Assessment Exam now provides more opportunities to enter the high school/one of your desired high school. But, to tell the truth, the Roman state had an obligation to educate all children who graduated from the first eighth grade in the ninth grade. I’ve been in front of an elective exam so far. Of course there is controversy regarding secondary schools and the quality of pedagogical act in the secondary schools in which places remain, but this is a controversy on which we will not end in a brief discussion of the proposed new legislative framework for education. Currently.
Regarding peer-to-peer acceptance of up to 90% of seats, I have some very reasonable opinions here, I think. The first is a given: The best kids ended up in the best schools anyway. With a few exceptions, this is how the national exam selection process still works, so I don’t see any fundamental changes here. Then another point of discussion is autonomy: how much autonomy can we give national colleges?
And here there is a discussion, but no matter how we argue, we are still in front of the best schools in the country. We now have some standards and in 3 years we will change them, however looking at this list, we are in front of an elite, both from the professional elite (teachers and managers) and the elite with respect to the children of these colleges. Why start this discussion from the premise that these fellows will cheat on an exam? So here I will (probably) make a suggestion: maybe 90% is too high. Although not absolute, the text says “up to 90%” and I would probably assume some criteria are taken into account in the creation of subjects, in consideration of the admission program which should always be the same as the NAP, in the kind of people who can create test systems for each From colleges (specifically, don’t be the professors of that college etc.).
Otherwise, always starting with the premise of “competition will be rigged,” we go in a direction where we do the intent process for each of the national colleges involved in this type of selection. I would also like to have a suggestion as to how to allow access to these colleges for children from rural areas, given that we know we are talking about less radical outcomes for children between rural and urban areas in Romania, and we also accept the criteria of ‘sex can work properly’ for equalization Opportunities are for women, so we should have some places where these colleges accept the best kids from rural areas but, as all the data tells us, they don’t start with the same opportunities in this selection writes. Yes, I suppose it’s a vision that leads to another time of inequality (Child from the countryside “replaces” an urban child), but I will also bring this issue into the public debate.
Ziare.com: The new law states that starting from the 2027-2028 school year, all national assessments and exams will be fully standardized and managed in digital form. What do you think of the deadline? Is this realistic?
Gaby Bartik: It is as realistic or unrealistic as anything written in law: I firmly believe that this is a necessary measure and I believe that if there is a political will to pass the primary legislation and subsequent legislation, and if we have the support of teachers and decision-makers, that goal is possible. It is obviously an exaggeration to talk about and hope for a “national consensus” on this topic, but I think all the factors involved need to do their work on this topic. For now, we are in front of a text that states some goodwill. This goodwill can be increased or, depending on the situation, very simply buried. It depends only on us, on all of us, how we “play” this opportunity that the law gives children in exchange for re-evaluation on fair and objective grounds.
Ziare.com: If we refer to the baccalaureate, the tests indicating the specialties of the profile and specialization become optional. Is it an advantage or disadvantage for students? why?
Gaby Bartik: It is a transition from the BAC exam to the certification field. I don’t have a very crystallized opinion here, a sample of important disciplines, from the common core, seemingly necessary in the circumstances in which we see from all the testing but also the level of the surrounding debates, highly scientific knowledge is easily replaced by pseudoscience, and serious gaps in general culture are tolerated It becomes more and more the norm. Since only this test is not mandatory (it certifies a higher level of skill after all, not completion of 12 years of education), I’d be tempted to say that whatever the reason is to get kids to learn more, it’s a good reason.
And here I think that my opinion will not have many supporters. I’ll keep saying that we can’t learn the whole high school just two subjects we need for the college entrance exam (if it still exists). It is impossible to pass 4 years of study in only 2-3 subjects. Yes, there are majors to consider, but the design of the BAC exams I did not consider “nailed” under this act. But only, at most, striped in outlines. I wish clarification in subsequent legislation.
Ziare.com: Majors in Arts, Physical Education and Sports will not be marked with marks from 1 to 10, and majors included in Lifelong Education will be marked with Acceptable/Rejected. Do you think this will reduce the pressure students feel about their grades, or will they, on the contrary, skimp on subjects they know they are not graded in?
Gaby Bartik: I’ll put it this way: We have a huge problem as a society if degrees in physical education, arts and/or religion, life education or any other similar subjects “press” on students. The problem is not with the students, it is not with the children. It is present in the adults around them – teachers and parents equally. I’ve heard of kids making dramas in grades 10 in sports. And here I say it is clear that we judge in a twisted, very twisted way: until we accept, as a society, that not all children are 10 years old, because not all of them are David Popovici or Simona Halep, even then the qualified “admitted/rejected” construction On some clear criteria (let’s find out why the child refuses, and he must be based on a minimum of clearly defined skills, not speaking in class or lack of appropriate equipment) is more appropriate. I myself am a mother of a child now in fourth grade and in one of our second grade classes he got a B (not FB) in physical education.
I know, in part, the reason (and it wasn’t because he didn’t run enough or jump enough). It had not even occurred to me to compete on this degree, because, in the absence of clear criteria, I would have entered into a whirl of the “that’s what I think” kind of thing. However, my child knows that not all children are very good at all subjects, and it is through this lens that we look at his performance (even in sports).
Ziare.com: What do you think are the main weaknesses of the new education law and what are the strengths?
Gaby Bartik: I think this legislative package is primarily concerned with the child, and I am here somehow convinced that it is the first time that the child has been placed at the center, and not on the side of or subordinate to a legislative curriculum. I think that the numerous references to each student’s individual educational path, if these references are also given effect in later standards, will only benefit him. The great weakness of this law, as I said, is not the law itself, but the possibility that all these good intentions will be buried by subsequent bad legislation. And that is why I believe that the public’s interest in this law should not be for the time being, until its adoption, but also for the whole of the next year, until it is implemented and implemented.
Ziare.com: If you are going to come to a conclusion, in general, regarding the proposals, is it a step forward in pre-university education in Romania?
Gaby Bartik: Yes, I strongly believe it could be a step forward. It is the sum of good principles. How we apply this is an art and here we must train our full attention, patience and strength to focus.