Wednesday, January 28, 2015 - 12:15
Math exam still mandatory as criticism mounts
Despite fierce opposition from the world of education, the mandatory math exam will count in the final exam of the school year. Pupils scoring less than 4.5 on it will not get a diploma. By introducing this test, state secretary of education Sander Dekker hopes to ensure that schools get their math education in order. In recent weeks, there has been a lot of criticism surrounding this test, with sector organizations, students, teachers and unions standing united against it. "It is nothing and it will not work," says Swier Garst, president of the Association of Mathematics Teachers, which has 3,000 members. "I know very few mathematics teachers who are in favor of this test." The only thing everyone seems to agree on is that intervention was necessary. Teachers at training colleges and other further education institutions complained some years ago that Dutch students are not good at mathematics. This led to the idea of a mandatory test that would measure whether students have achieved a set math level. Only the SGP was against such a test in the Second Chamber. Cito developed the first test and committees pored over its weak points. Dekker made numerous adjustments to accommodate critics. His revisions included more retakes, more sums to be calculated without a calculator and fewer "word sums." The State Secretary also lowered the average, since many students failed the test. Education spokesperson Tanja Jadnanansing of the PvdA faction in the Second Chamber is satisfied with that. Her party will stand behind the mathematics test, she said on Tuesday. "All criticism we had has been taken away." The PVV and VVD also supports the test. The rest of the opposition is against it. Education experts are not convinced by Dekker's revisions. "The math test is a wrong medicine for this disease, says former math teacher Jan Jimkes, who has been resisting the test for years. "The problem is that math skills are not in order. You repair that with good mathematical education in the foundation, not with a loose math test at the end of high school." But not everyone in the education world is against this test. A group of 24 mathematics teachers recently sent a letter to the Second Chamber stating that they support the plans. The Association of Colleges also stands behind the test. The association calls the introduction of the test "an important milestone" and expects a visible improvement in the mathematics level of incoming students.