Overview: 2020 high school state exam results

Student about to take the Estonian language state exam. Photo is illustrative.
Student about to take the Estonian language state exam. Photo is illustrative. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Compared to last year, state exam result averages have not seen major changes. At the same time, distance learning methods stemming from the coronavirus pandemic may leave a mark on exam results the coming years and at it's best, the pandemic could be used to bring rural schools up to speed.

Margus Pedaste, head of the University of Tartu's Pedagogicum, explained that the study process for students taking state exams differed from traditional for just a month in total. At the same time, state exams do not show when something has been learned over the 12 years of school.

"We must consider that state exams do not assess knowledge of facts, but rather a set of skills that has developed over a long time, such as problem solving. It is probably possible to get the same result in 11th grade than a year later," the professor added.

Pedaste said there have been no studies on the effects of distance learning on study results lately. Previous ones have shown however that some students are positively affected by the self-discipline and regulation required for distance learning. "In some matters, the daily school life is harassing to them and they cannot move at their own pace," he said.

But one of the main components of school - common studying - often goes astray when it comes to distance learning. A student might consider themselves a good learner when alone, but they lack the option to assess their understanding when it comes to others.

Remarkably, the average results for the broader math exam dropped by three points, while the number of exam-doers did not see much difference. Pedaste speculated that the exam specifics and a tenser environment can be blamed: "For some students, this stress-inducing situation can lessen study motivation and for others it gives a better chance to move at their own pace and therefore achieve a better result," the professor noted.

Three main objectives

It should also be noted that rankings only show one of the three pillars of education. "State exams only assess qualification and competence in some specialities. The remaining two pillars are never shown enough attention. In school, we also learn to become a member of society and supporting and understanding each other, which we see a lack of in high-level politics as well," Pedaste said.

Growing as a person, learning to understand yourself and creating a positive view on life should also not be left aside. "Some assessments looking at student satisfaction have been conducted but it is not assessed on a wider scale currently.

ERR's science portal Novaator put together rankings for Estonian schools, available below. The rankings can be sorted by clicking on the column names and specific schools can be found by using the "Search" function.

Estonian language state exam

2,670 boys and 3,357 girls took the Estonian language state exam this year. The average for boys was 57.2 points of the possible 100 and the average for girls was 65.1 points. Two boys and five girls nationwide received the maximum number of points.

Estonian as second language state exam

A total of 1,779 students took the Estonian as second language state exam, 854 of them were boys and 925 were girls. The young men averaged a result of 62.4 points while the women scored an average of 72.9 points, with six of them getting the maximum number of points.

Math state exam

The so-called narrow math state exam, the easier of two options, was taken by 2,356 students and the so-called wider exam was taken by 4,255 students. Generally, math classes are separated into two separate groups with the wider exam classes having been through 14 math courses and the narrow classes going through eight. This however does not mean narrow math learners cannot take wide exams and vice versa.

Among the 2,356 students to take the narrow exam, 1,433 were girls and 923 were boys. The average for girls was 39.5 points and 31.5 points for boys. The overall average result for the narrow exam was 36.4 points.

A nearly equal amount of boys (2,126) and girls (2,129) took the wider math exam. The average for girls was 52.5 points and 49.5 for boys. The average for the wide exam was 51 points.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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