Schools seeking guidelines about admission exams and final grades

Classrooms in Estonia are currently empty as students learn online from home due to the spread of coronavirus. Source: Ministry of Education and Research

Entrance exams for high school places will begin soon but it is not yet clear how they will take place and schools are waiting for clear guidelines from the Ministry of Education.

High school admissions usually take place in March or April, but the coronavirus crisis, resulting emergency situation and the moving of the education system to distance learning has shattered the usual plans. Due to the ban on mass gatherings examinations cannot currently be held.

At present, the only thing which is clear is that the government supports the Minister of Education Mailis Reps' plan to gradually reopen schools from May 15 to small groups of children. While schools in Tartu have created an e-exam, many other schools are still wondering what to do.

Toomas Kruusimägi, director of Tallinn English College, said until the government provides clear information about what will happen at the end of the school year, it is difficult to organize exams. He said, for example, there are still no guidelines about how final exams should be held and information has only been shared at press conferences.

Kruusimägi said the time and procedure for examinations should be decided, guidelines formalized and a clear picture of how the rest of the students will finish the school year should be given.

He said the organization of the four tests, in which Tallinn English College, Tallinn Real School, Gustav Adolf Gymnasium and Tallinn 21st School participate, are still uncertain and all options are possible.

"The whole of Estonia is studying by distance learning today, and you can do interviews very well and successfully in this way, and you can definitely do some tests in this format, but it all depends on what decision is made as to whether or not to quietly normalize life, whether any contact is allowed at all, for how long, and so on," he said.

Tartu is developing e-exams

In mid-May, joint exams for five schools will take place in Tartu in Estonian and mathematics.

Ene Tamberg, the director of Miina Härma Gymnasium, said Innovate had started to develop e-exams, which can be used while the schools remain closed. But Tamberg, it is still unclear how the exams will take place.

''There is probably an option that each student will take them at some point at home. Alternatively, maybe if the schools actually get to reopen to some extent, it is would also be possible to do them in the students' schools, but it is such a new option that we have not actually brought it to the table yet,'' said Tamberg.

No clarity about final grades

In addition to the tests, admissions also depend on students final grades, but how they will be awarded this year has not been clarified. Teachers are not yet sure what should be taken into consideration when deciding final grades.

Kristi Vinter-Nemvalts, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Education and Research, said on Tuesday clarification will come in the next few weeks.

Peter Pedak, director of the Tallinn French Lyceum, said all schools are free to plan their exams, but exactly what they will look like depends on the school itself. However, nothing has been decided at the lyceum, and clarity will hopefully come this month.

"If we can do it at school at the end of May, then it's nicer. If it is not possible to return to school, then e-exams will be considered. If it is possible to do something online in early May, I would consider it and leave face-to-face interviews until the end of May. For example, a foreign language conversation or a general conversation with a candidate," Pedak said.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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