EDUCATION

School exams on way to being scrapped again this year

End-of-year tests are likely to be canceled and the semester extended as the lockdown drags on

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As schools remain in remote mode longer than initially expected due to successive lockdown extensions, the Education Ministry appears to be leaning toward the option of scrapping end-of-year exams at middle and high schools, while extending the semester for elementary schools and possibly for seniors.

“The longer remote learning continues, the more likely that end-of-year exams will be canceled,” a high-ranking ministry official told Kathimerini. Exams were also scrapped in the wake of the first big spring lockdown at the start of the pandemic last year.

A decision to scrap end-of-year exams, meanwhile, would also have an impact on the Education Ministry’s plan to reintroduce a central database from which the questions for exams in the last year of middle school would be drawn. This would also likely spur the Federation of Secondary School Teachers (OLME), which is opposed to the idea.

As far as elementary schools are concerned, the academic year is likely to be extended to the end of June in order to allow younger pupils the opportunity to experience some sense of normalcy, given that the operation of their schools has already been re-suspended until March 15 and the possibility of classes taking place over the two-week Easter holidays is unlikely.

The ministry is also examining how to deal with the issue of university entrance exams, with an extension of the academic year for seniors also being one of the options.

“The ministry is carefully considering a number of proposals concerning how to cover the education needs created by the pandemic. Given that all the material is covered… and also the need for the student community to return to its ‘natural’ environment at school, there may be an extension of the scholastic year,” Zeta Makri, the deputy minister for secondary education, told Kathimerini.

“The national university entrance exams have been scheduled as usual and the material has already been significantly reduced in timely response to the turmoil created by the health crisis,” she added.

The Education Policy Institute (IEP), which advises the government on issues of educational policy, meanwhile, is seeking to reduce the volume of material taught in the first and second year of high school so that the curriculum can focus on areas that are more essential to pupils’ advancement.