Vietnam: can one national exam test all?

Students in Vietnam attend the high school completion exam.Photo: Van Chung/World Bank

After months of impassioned public discussion, Vietnam’s Ministry of Education và Training has finally announced that one national exam will determine high school graduation and the exam results will be used as the basis for university entrance admission.Until recently, Vietnamese students took two tests after completing 12 years in school: one was for high school graduation and the next was for university entrance. Both were high stakes tests that created pressure on students và their families.

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However, the two examinations served very different purposes. High school graduation tests are designed to lớn assess important domains in the high school curriculum. They aim lớn ensure that high school graduates achieve required reading, writing & mathematical skills. High school graduation tests are not designed to kiểm tra students on other skills such as learning skills, time management, team work, problem solving skills, creative skills, ICT skills, etc., which are important for readiness in post-secondary education (college or vocational school) & work.University entrance examinations meanwhile aim lớn select the best students who will enroll in colleges. In several Asian countries like Vietnam, Korea, japan and China, this is a national examination that takes place once a year after high school graduation examination. Only the highest scorers are selected khổng lồ fill limited seats in universities and colleges. The tests aim to lớn be a good predictor of future performance in professional careers (not just a measure of past learning).

With the Education Ministry’s decision, what should be taken into consideration when the two current exams are merged into one?First, the demo must be designed so as to be both diagnostic of the màn chơi of achievement reached in secondary education, and highly predictive of future university performance. This will result in a lengthy chạy thử measuring different competencies at different performance levels.

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It will also require a lot of time to design and develop the test. In addition, a single cut-off score for the exam may be too high for high school graduation but still too low for university entrance selection.Second, holding a single thử nghiệm may put extra pressure not only on students but also on educators và education managers, increasing the likelihood of cheating schemes and “teaching lớn the test” resulting in diverting valuable instruction time to demo preparation & less on course curricula. These risks are associated with high-stakes tests, và could increase with a single kiểm tra attempting to lớn “do it all”. However, the bigger question is: Can a single exam tell whether a student is ready khổng lồ graduate from high school & enter college? International experience shows that standardized tests used in these large scale national assessments vì chưng not measure students’ important achievements. In order to lớn develop better assessments geared at measuring high-order skills required for university-level study, and to be career-ready, different assessment methods should be used instead of relying solely on a chạy thử aimed at measuring past achievement and learning.Other high chất lượng assessment methods such as evidence of students’ performances, exhibits & portfolios should be employed khổng lồ determine students’ skills, knowledge and disposition that are actually valued in university & employment. Combining these different sources of evidence gives a much better perspective of the readiness of students to exit secondary education. University professors and employers are more interested to know students’ generalizable và future learning potentials rather than merely their kiểm tra scores. A single national exam has khổng lồ be carefully designed and administered. Several assessment indicators should be used to ensure fairness & accuracy in assessment. The single exam, if administered, should have separate analysis of the demo data lớn be interpreted for the two different purposes.What bởi you think an effective joint test should be like? share your thoughts with us!