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Assessment of student learning

The National Standards of Compulsory Education (Cabinet of Ministers, 2014) state that “to evaluate student achievement in a manner that is both comprehensive and provides maximum objectivity, assessment tools must specify the scope of knowledge and skills acquired, students’ attitudes towards learning, as well as the dynamics of development that characterise each individual”. They prescribe assessment procedures including self- and peer-evaluation, teacher evaluation, and national examinations (Table 3.4). Continuous assessment of student progress is carried out by teachers. Continuous assessment, tests and state examinations (with the exception of those that are centrally marked) are reported on a ten-point scale ranging from 1 (fail) to 10 (outstanding).

Table 3.4. Assessment and centralised examinations in basic education

Stage of education

Assessments and examinations required

End of Grade 3

Diagnostic assessment in “combined learning content” (i.e. multi-subject) taken in the student’s first language.

Diagnostic assessment in Latvian language for students in schools implementing national minority education programmes.

End of Grade 6

Diagnostic assessment in the student’s first language and mathematics.

Diagnostic assessment in Latvian language for students in schools implementing national minority education programmes.

Diagnostic assessment in natural sciences.

End of Grade 9 (certificate of basic education)

An examination in the student’s first language (set centrally, but marked locally).

An examination in mathematics (set centrally but marked locally).

An examination in Latvian language for students in schools implementing national minority education programmes (centrally marked).

An examination in Latvian history (set centrally, but marked locally).

An examination in first foreign language (set centrally, but marked locally).

Sources: Bethell, G. and G. Kaufmane (2005), “Assessment and centralized examinations in Latvia”, Assessment in Education, Vol. 12/3, pp. 301-314, www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/09695940500337272; MoES (2015), “Country background report Latvia”, unpublished, Ministry of Education and Science, Riga.

A certificate of basic education is awarded to all students who have received a positive assessment in all subjects and national examinations, providing them the right to continue education in any higher-level education programme. if the student does not receive an assessment in one of the subjects or in one of the final national examinations, or has received a mark below 4 in more than two of them, he or she receives a school report instead. in order to acquire the certificate of basic education, these students may repeat the grade at the same or another education institution, or may complete a pedagogical correction programme, repeating only the subjects they had failed (Eurypedia, 2015).

The proportion of students who repeat a grade has more than halved in the last decade. PisA 2012 found that 8.5% of 15-year-old students reported having repeated a grade at least once, which although considerably below the oECD average of 12.4% may be considered high when compared with other countries with comprehensive school systems like Estonia (3.5%), sweden (4.0%) or Norway (0.0%) (oECD, 2013a). According to national statistics, 1.7% of the 168 970 students in basic education (i.e. Grades 1 to 9) were repeating a year in 2012/13, down from 2.5% the year before. This decrease can be explained by the introduction in 2012 of a requirement for schools to take measures to support students with learning difficulties (MoEs, 2015).

 
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