School exam passing mark to rise substantially in Latvia

Over the next few years, the minimum passing threshold of centralized State exams will rise from the current 5% to 20%. The education sector generally supports the idea, Latvian Radio reported January 26.

Next academic year, students will have to reach the threshold of 10% to pass the exams, and it will continue to increase over the next few years until in 2024/2025, the minimum is 20%. 

For years, universities have pointed out that 5% is too little to give the pupil an attestation. The Education and Science Ministry (IZM) now agrees with this and proposes to change the threshold.

Before 2012, there was a system of levels with the lowest level of F, which was not sufficient to enrol in higher education. The State Education Content Centre said that the 5% threshold is even lower than an F.

Statistics show that the number of students who do not pass an exam is increasing. Last year, they were 657 pupils. 585 were unable to pass the exam in maths and 68 in Latvian language.

Last year the average pupil scored 36% in the mathematics exam but a very large proportion of pupils passed the exam scoring between 0% and 20%. According to Latvian Radio, the figure was above 5,000. In the future the content of the maths exam will be different: there will be a general, optimal, and upper-level exam. In the lower-level exam, the 20% threshold would be easier to reach than in the exams used so far.

The Education Content center said that discussions would continue on how to support students and teachers in the process, especially paying attention to the groups where exam results are markedly lower.

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