National Education Council suggests replacing exams with aptitude tests

In the opinion of the CNE, making entry into higher education dependent on secondary completion exams resulted in an overvaluation of those tests

The National Education Council (CNE) suggested, in a recommendation released today, replacing national exams with projects similar to aptitude tests carried out in professional and artistic courses.

The hypothesis was raised in a recommendation on exams and access to higher education, released today, in which the Ministry of Education's advisory body raises a set of limitations of the current model.

In the CNE's opinion, making entry into higher education dependent on secondary exit exams resulted in an overvaluation of those tests and, on the other hand, in the devaluation of secondary education itself.

He also understands that there ends up being a tendency to reduce the prescribed curriculum to what is assessed, also limiting the capacity for pedagogical innovation and reinforcing a model that guides teaching towards exam preparation.

In relation to the argument that exams allow to guarantee equity between students, the CNE contradicts it, considering that “it is only guaranteed when it is a reality throughout the entire process”, from teaching and learning, to action on the interpretation of exams. results “in a way appropriate to the diversity of students”.

Alternatively, the council presents a set of possible scenarios, with a greater or lesser role for higher education institutions, and assesses the potential and limitations of each one, recognizing that “there is no ideal model” of access to higher education.

One of the suggestions presented is the replacement of high school graduation exams with projects similar to the aptitude tests carried out at the end of professional courses and some specialized artistic courses.

“To what extent would this change in the external evaluation model bring the prescribed curriculum closer to the evaluated one, potentially bringing significant changes to the implemented curriculum? And would it promote equity in the evaluation process?” asks the CNE.

On the other hand, it admits the hypothesis that the tests contribute to correcting the gap between secondary and higher education, using juries that include higher education teachers.

“If, on the one hand, there is a perception that higher education teachers are unaware of the content that students learned in secondary school, on the other hand, secondary school teachers seem to be unfamiliar with what is expected of a student who enter higher education and have academic success”, justifies the document.

Without committing to a concrete alternative scenario for access to higher education, the CNE nevertheless recommends reinforcing the responsibility of higher education institutions in the access and entry process, in coordination by groups of courses.

They would be responsible, for example, for defining the skills profile and introducing their own selection and ranking criteria and instruments, depending on the defined profile.

It also recommends the progressive integration of a single access model for the different entry routes into higher education, a change that they say could contribute to the social valorization of the different routes and to a greater adaptation of assessment practices to the model of access.