Secondary school entrance exam scores worst in over a decade

June 22, 2016

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Hungarian primary students preparing to enter high school have performed markedly worse in their exams this year than in recent years, reports news site 444.hu. According to data compiled by the Board of Education, students preparing to enter 8-year secondary schools have shown the worst performance decreases. On a scale of 100 points, last year’s average exam result was a modest 69.6 points. By comparison, this year’s average has slipped a full 12 points.

Results were not better for students entering 4- and 6-year high school programs, where this year’s average exam results were 47.6 and 54.1 respectively, the worst in more than a decade, Magyar Nemzet reports.

A number of factors could be behind the declining scores. According to education expert Péter Radó, more and more parents are enrolling their children in 6- or 8-year high school programs instead of the traditional 4-year ones, and since the competition is tightening for admittance, the average test scores are dropping, he said.

Unrealistic expectations dictated by education politics may also be a cause. According to Radó, decreasing opportunities for admittance to higher education induces parents to send their children to programs with higher university admission rates.  Additionally, since 2010, exams haven’t been centrally standardized, so it’s difficult to know exactly what they are measuring.

Further political maneuverings could also bear some responsibility, Radó said. The increasingly difficult exams could be used deliberately as a filter to allow only the highest-performing students into 6- and 8-year high school programs, leaving the rest to enroll in less esteemed vocational high schools.

The Hungarian education system has recently undergone a series of radical changes, and suffers from chronic budgetary and administrative difficulties.