Press release on new exam model
The second issue of the Journal of Azerbaijan Barometer by Social Research Center based on a public opinion survey "New model of admission exams for full (11-year) secondary education, higher and vocational education" was presented in a conference. The conference was attended by Zahid Oruj (Chairman of the Social Research Center), Saadat Yusifova (Head of the Department of Affairs and Communication of the Presidential Administration with NGOs) Jeyhun Bayramov (Minister of Education), Maleyka Abbaszadeh (Chairman of the Counsel of Directors of the State Exam Center) Gulshan Orujova (Director of School No. 6) and Anar Mammadov, a student of Azerbaijan State Economic University (UNEC). Moreover, deputies from various ministries, professionals from the education sector, prominent public and political figures, as well as mass media representatives participated in the event.
According to the report, reforms in the education system of Azerbaijan have always been in the spotlight of public policy as a strategic issue. The following changes and reforms are some of the examples testifying to government's attention to the examination of applicants;
a) Amendment of the State Examination Center regulations and delegation of monitoring examinations to the Center in 2012;
b) establishment of a joint working group of the Ministry of Education on the assessment of knowledge and skills since 2015;
c) implementation of the new assessment model of the secondary (9-year) students in 2017 by the State Examination Center
d) The adoption of new assessment model by the joint activities of the two institutions in 2019 of final exams for full secondary education, admission exams for higher and vocational education institutions.
Since February of this year, both - paper and online based test exams, as well as graduation and admission exams, and the implementation of the new education model, have led to a great public debate. In the context of various approaches to the new model, the Social Research Center reviewed a) the advantages and disadvantages of the new model this year in graduation and admission exams; b) the current state of the education system of Azerbaijan; and c) the attitude of society to these innovations. In June and July of the current year, a comprehensive research was conducted among the representatives of the State Examination Center, applicants, parents, teachers, and education experts. The press release contains the main directions of the Analytical Report made by the center.
The public opinion poll conducted by the Social Research Center among 539 respondents and 12 experts covered 10 cities and regions. The geographical units were selected based on the distribution of regional centers of State Examination Center. Analysis of the results of the poll reveals that although there is extensive work on the application of the examination model in line with modern educational programs, some applicants struggle with its assimilation - a significant proportion of respondents had a problem with mastering the curriculum. Generally, the application of this model strengthens the links between secondary and higher education levels. Although 45% of the respondents do not consider the new model useful, experts think that the new approach serves as a basis for search and reform. When looking through the content of the new admissions model, it is clear that there are serious problems between the curriculum and model. The report also widely investigates the applicants' ambiguous approach to the examination.
One of the most essential details is related to the role of tutors in education. According to the results, 86% of applicants used tutors, 8% said they were preparing for exams at school and 6% said they were preparing for themselves. About 60% and 30% the applicants stated that admission exams and admissions tests were difficult respectively. 54% of them noted the shortcomings of open-ended questions. One of the main concerns was the problems with the evaluation of writing tasks, as well as the disadvantages of using foreign language listening devices.
Education experts, nevertheless, argue that there is no need for concern regarding the lowering of admission scores to the universities. The fee in the exam is too high for 60% of respondents. The results of the survey also show that almost half of the parents (45%) and one-third of the teachers (33%) play a great role in preparing students for the examination in a moral and psychological manner.
In general, there are certain problems with high school curricula, mastering of the content of curricula, and textbooks' overall quality. According to the report, the new model applied in the high school graduation and admission examinations, due to its innovative nature, has faced concerns and is accompanied by a number of problems.
Since these innovations are nascent, public may struggle to understand and accept them. In order for the new curriculum to be more effective, it is important to work with teachers and provide them with training. As a result of ongoing research and monitoring, it is necessary to determine where and why the program has failed. It is essential to note that this year the number of application to the State Examination Centre's Appeal Commission is significantly higher than in previous years.
In addition, there were more cases where applicants were found to be right in their appeals. Certain errors, especially after the evaluation of some of the open-ended tasks by the State Examination Center, will inevitably decrease trust in the examiners when they pass the exam.
Interestingly, 22% of respondents believe that the new model of admission exams needs to be upgraded. 53.5% of the respondents favoured the previous model exams, 4.5% support the cancellation of the test admission, 8% think that test admission must be held once a year. However, there is disagreement among experts on this issue. Some of them adopt the two-stage exam model, but, they suggest the detailed analysis of the results of the exams this year, and addressing the shortcomings, improving the new model by conducting reforms in this area, while others support one-stage exams.