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Implementation of assessment policy - Poland

External examination system

The new system of external assessment, which has gradually been introduced since 2002, makes it possible to diagnose both the achievements and shortcomings of pupils’ education, to assess the effectiveness of teaching, and to compare objectively current certificates and diplomas irrespective of the place where they have been issued. 

The external examination system comprises:

  • The Competency Test in Year 6 of primary school.
  • The Lower Secondary School (Gimnasium) Examination conducted in Year 3 of lower secondary school.
  • The Matura Examination for graduates of general secondary schools specialised secondary schools, technical secondary schools, supplementary secondary schools or post secondary schools.
  • The Examination confirming Vocational Qualifications (vocational examination) for graduates of: vocational schools, technical schools and supplementary technical schools. 

All examinations are administered by the Regional Examination Boards. The rules of external assessment are described in detail in The Regulation of the Minister of National Education and Sport (September 7, 2004) on Circumstances and Methods of Assessment, Classifying and Promoting Students and Participants, and Conducting Tests and Examinations in Public Schools

External assessment is conducted at the end of a given stage of education in view of educational outcomes described in the Core Curriculum. The methods and results of reaching these assignments may vary because of the full autonomy of each school. Therefore, only the final effects of education and results achieved from a completed stage of education can be compared.

The establishment of uniform and precisely formulated attainment standards has direct influence over objectivity and standardisation of the external assessment. Furthermore, those standards are relevant for moving the main interest of the assessment from knowledge to skills and abilities obtained at a particular stage of education. 

The Competence Test

The Competence Test is administered at the end of primary school (Year 6) and it is the first and compulsory external examination the pupil attempts in his school education. The first Competence Test was administered in 2002. 

The Competence Test is usually conducted at the pupil’s own school. Only in special cases can the Competence Test be conducted in another institution, fixed by the appropriate Regional Examination Board. The Competence Test does not have a selection function but only an informational one. The results do not have any influence on a pupil’s promotion and should not be the basis of any selection process. Any pupil who has graduated from primary school, independent of test results, must be admitted to the lower secondary school in the appropriate area (until the age of 16).

The test integrates a number of subjects and it tests the skills and abilities specified in the

attainment standards within the scope of: reading, writing, reasoning, using information, applying knowledge. Pupils have 60 minutes to complete the test and can get a maximum score 40 points. External examiners mark the exam papers. 

The Lower Secondary School Exam

The Lower Secondary School Exam is conducted in Year 3 of lower secondary school. It is general and obligatory, which means that every pupil graduating from lower secondary school has to take it. The Lower Secondary School Exam is a cross subject exam consisting of two parts (arts and science). The first part tests the abilities and knowledge in the humanities: Polish, History, Civic Education, Art, Music and some educational paths such as Philosophy, Regional Studies, Reading and Media, Polish Culture and the Mediterranean Civilisation. The second part tests the abilities and knowledge in science subjects: Maths, Biology, Geography, Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy and educational paths such as Health Education or Ecology.

In each part of the examination the maximum score is 50 points. The result is final and is taken into account by secondary schools during the selection process. 

The Matura Exam

The Matura Exam (The New Matura) replaces the matriculation examination, so called The Old Matura. In 2005 it was introduced for the first time for all graduates of general secondary schools and specialised secondary schools. In subsequent years it will be introduced also for graduates of technical secondary schools, supplementary general secondary schools and supplementary technical secondary schools.

The New Matura is an external examination, uniform throughout the country, but not compulsory. It has been brought in to ensure the uniformity of exam sets and criteria of assessment, comparability of results and objectivity of assessment (the coded answer sheets are marked by external examiners). The Matura Exam is also the basis for entry into universities and colleges of further education. 

The vocational examination

The vocational examination (fully “the examination confirming vocational qualifications”) is an external examination, not obligatory, conducted by the Regional Examination Boards. This examination’s main goal is to assess and certify the level of abilities and knowledge specified in the attainment standards, which form the basis for conducting the examination confirming vocational qualifications for a particular profession. It is conducted for graduates of: basic vocational schools, technical secondary schools, supplementary technical secondary schools and post secondary schools. The examinees who pass this exam receive a certificate confirming vocational qualifications. 

Pupils with special educational needs within the external examination system  

Pupils with SEN take the test organised at the end of primary school and the examination organised at the end of gymnasium in the form and circumstances taking into account their deficiency. 

If necessary, the examination takes place in a separate classroom or at the pupil’s home.

Pupils with special needs are entitled to extra 50% time allocated for work with a test paper. 

There are different test papers for pupils with special needs:

  • Paper with bigger fonts (16 and 24 p) for pupils with vision problems,
  • Paper in Braille for blind pupils,
  • Adapted paper for pupils with hearing problems,
  • Adapted paper for slight mental disability.

Pupils with dyslexia do a regular test paper but their paper is marked according to different criteria. Only pupils with moderate and severe mental disability are not obliged to take a compulsory test at the end of primary school or lower secondary examination.

Adapted forms and circumstances of examinations also apply to the Matura examination. Disabled secondary school leavers may take the final secondary school examination in a written and oral form in special classrooms or at home and in a manner adjusted to his/her speaking, writing and physical abilities. If necessary, the examination takes place in a separate classroom or at the pupil’s home. The examinees are entitled to an extra 30 minutes for each exam paper.

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