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Exams amid Corona: Nations Take Different Approaches to COVID-19

A different Approach to High school & College Exams as Corona Changes the Status Quo

As it a norm all over the world. The end of each academic year is characterized by high-stake examinations, which are great landmarks to the students’ academic lives.

That’s because the exams often determine whether learners to move to the next academic level (such as high school), or qualify to get to the job market.

They also act as identifiers for qualifying students with poor backgrounds, and open doors to different financial aids throughout academic.

Due to the danger of infection from the deadly virus, group gatherings and closure of institutions was implemented. This lockdown situation has led to the closure of schools and students have been sent home where they are expected to study from.

As a result, institutions are considering different options to address the examination issue while maintaining government regulations put in place to prevent the spread of the disease.

Exams amid Coronavirus Pandemic: How Different Nations Have Responded

1. To cancel this year’s exam.

Some countries such as Norway have already embraced termination as the solution. The nation cancelled 2020 grade 10 examinations, which were to be written by the learners in their final year of junior high school.

They have also called off all examinations that were to be taken by high school students in all the three years of high school education.

In this case, the cost of exam cancellation might not be large because they rely much on course participation to give the final grade.

Their examinations only make up 20 percent. The learner’s course participation makes up the other 80 percent of their final grade.

India has also taken similar unprecedented moves but with a unique twist. Learners in Uttar Pradesh (from grade 1 to grade 8) will be promoted to the next step of education without sitting for an examination.

In the meantime, the United States has also called off SAT which is administered to learners in their various campuses.

The nation, currently struggling with the coronavirus pandemic, has cancelled the examination calendared for May 2, 2020, and is considering the same for another test scheduled for June 6, 2020.

This has prompted the universities in the United States to make adjustments on their way of admitting students to make the tests optional to the students.

They have also decided not to hold the International Baccalaureate examinations. Instead, the will award students either a Course Certificate or a Diploma certificate, according to the learner’s course work— and the established evaluation skill, consistency, and the quality control which has been built into the program the student has undergone.

This could be the same case in many nations across the world, trying to come up with the best ways to deal with the examination issues based on their academic programs and resources at hand.

2. Rescheduling.

One of the first cases of the rescheduling examinations is the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), which was to take place in May and June 2020.

This examination, usually taken by candidates from different countries has been suspended, and the students have to wait until the world gets the coronavirus pandemic in control.

Another case is the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC), which has members from over 16 countries and territories from the West Indies. They have suspended their high school examinations which was scheduled for May to July, 2020.

The Czech Republic has launched discussions to postpone it exams, even though they had earlier introduced exam preparations via television, for remote leaners.

The state of Hong Kong has already postponed its Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) examinations which were to take place late March to late April.

A similar situation has been witnessed in India where the exams that qualify one for higher education have been adjourned. The government is thinking of changing the exam schedule as well as the academic calendar in the country.

The republic of China has also postponed its university entrance GaoKao examinations, which is taken by over 10 million students each year. It will now take place around 7th or 8th July if the situation gets better.

Meanwhile, the Colombian state is also exploring options to rearrange the national exams after it announced suspension.

The same case is true for Ireland where national government is thinking of postponing the Leaving Certificate for several months. This exam is the qualifier for post-primary education used to select candidates for further education, and job qualification.

The Leaving certificate was to take place in June, and has been put off along with other educational activities like the start of the academic year for higher education institutions.

3. Modifying the exam formats.

Instead of termination or postponement, some countries have chosen to modify their examinations to fit the regulations that have been put in place to prevent the spread of the corona virus.

The 6th-year medical students in the United Kingdom have already taken their examinations, which was the offered online for the first time in the country.

The students had an online exam in an open book format, which comprised 150 questions. Candidates were required to answer all questions in a three-hour sitting.

Another exam that will be administered the same way is the Advanced Placement (AP) exams in US. This exam is used to measure the ability of the student to master both content and skills in a certain subject. It is the key to a college credit in the United States and will be offered in a free- response format— with all resources provided online to both the learners and the examiners.

In the meantime, the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) exams in the Caribbean will also be offered online.

And finally, the secondary school-leaving exams in Germany will take place under strict hygiene and observance to the distance regulations.

In most countries that have decided to change the exam formats, exams have already taken place or are have been rescheduled to take place soon in the modified formats.

Which is the best Approach?

The best approach in each case will depend on the state itself. This is because the affected exams are used to make important decisions about each candidate’s academic progress, according to their education systems.

The examinations should, therefore, be standardized for learners in all levels and from all backgrounds. In a nutshell, the content, exam format, tasks, the examination conditions, access and utilization of exam resources, and the analysis of exam results should be uniform for all learners.

Despite the crisis, we should strive to maintain exam validity, reliability, and fairness of exams. This will ensure that the provided exam won’t disadvantage a certain group of learners.

The boards responsible for addressing examination matters should do thorough considerations before making decisions.

These include the criteria to be used in allocating university chances and scholarships, and the preservation of fairness and transparency in case they choose to cancel or postpone the examinations.

The other consideration that has to be made is the fairness of the access to and use of exam materials. Examiners must consider all groups of students, from the more advantaged to the less advantaged, such as those from poor backgrounds, and the disabled, if online exam formats are to be embraced.

Nations must ensure that each student taking an online exam from whichever part of the state has a steady internet connection. The scholar should also be well aware of how to accurately take exams through the internet.

If the exams are cancelled and the tutors are required to provide grades through other ways, how reliable and fair are the ways to all students. If the use of the student’s performance in the course how will that be evaluated and how reliable will it be?

With the current situation, it is not clear which approach to take with examinations, especially those that matter. Educators must work with governments to check the extent of the effect of the coronavirus pandemic and make well-thought-out decision on whether to cancel, postpone, or offer exams in a modified format.

Wrap – up. If we manage to control the spread of the virus in the near future, high school and college tests may go on as usual but with the strict observance of the social distancing and hygiene.

Governments can also choose to postpone the exams until the pandemic is dealt with and conditions return to normal. However, that would be risky since the epidemic has not yet shown any signs of ending and tomorrow is unpredictable.

Still, if exams must be offered amidst this pandemic, only the vital exams—used to make lifetime decisions on the lives of the learners— should be offered. This will reduce the number of students that the state will budget to examine and reduce the cost of the examination.

Contributor: admin
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