STA, 22 March 2021 - Nation-wide exams for primary school children in years six and nine were cancelled last year due to coronavirus, but they are planned to be held as usual this year. The exam is taken with a pen and paper, and it will be no different this year. But to test the option of taking it online, a special pilot project is being launched today.
From Monday to Friday, more than 40,000 pupils in forms six and nine at 441 primary schools will be taking the exam online - on a computer or a tablet - to get the ropes.
Every school has been assigned the day and several slots to carry out the e-trail exam, with the majority of kids to take it in a computer classroom at their school.
Up to 5,000 pupils will be sitting for the exam simultaneously, for which reason schools have been divided into two approximately equally large groups.
The pilot project is designed to test how the network works if used by several thousand pupils at the same time and which problems may emerge, Darko Zupanc, the director of the National Examinations Centre, said on Friday.
This should allow education authorities to see whether it would be possible for the exam to be simultaneously taken at all primary schools, or also at home.
Kids will be able to use various online tools to do the assignments, while they will have a chance to retake the exam on their home computer later on the same day.
The electronic exam will not be graded because it is not meant to test knowledge, so children will get no test results.
At the end of the exam, they will have to answer several questions on their examination experience.
Zupanc said the data obtained from this pilot project should facilitate development of systemic tools for exams and grading with new technologies, especially in case of distance learning.
The national exams for primary schools were introduced 20 years ago and were last year cancelled for the first time.
However, they are not compulsory and have no bearing on the pupils' final grades, but there is also an idea to introduce them for children in third form.
The exams are not meant for schools to compare how well their pupils are doing in comparison with other schools, but for individual schools to evaluate their own work, the head of the national commission for the nation-wide exams in primaries, Janez Vogrinc, said on Friday.
The exam is taken in three stages; children in year six will this year take it in their mother tongue on 4 May, maths on 6 May and the foreign language on 10 May.
But Slovenian Headteachers' Association president Gregor Pečan believes that in the given situation, the national exams for primaries should not be held this year at all.
A month and a half after primaries reopened following a four-month closure, gaps in knowledge are starting to emerge, he said at today's government Covid briefing.
Pečan also recalled that the exams had been cancelled last year while pupils had been distance learning only for approximately two months.
"The majority of headteachers and other educators maintain that what is needed more is peace and support to rectify the situation as soon as possible."
Although admitting not everything was as gloomy as some see it when speaking of "a lost generation", he said "very good planning will be needed to restore the situation this year and in coming school years to get the generations to the level we want".
For the same reason the headteachers are against organising various competitions for primary school children, urging "immediate suspension" of competition activities, which he said were now fully underway.
Pečan also touched on today's launch of testing whether national exams could be taken online, saying the information he had showed there were many problems.
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