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Accelerate changes in Argentina high school in the face of the learning setback

December 05, 2022

Original Article:

The original article requires translation. 

Changes in the academic regime, in the evaluation systems, the assistance, the forms of promotion and in the curricular programs are some of the modifications that will be implemented in the secondary school, which in some provinces have already been put into practice and in others still is under debate, while the Ministry of Education analyzes improvements and a specific evaluation for the middle level before the end of the year.

Some of these modifications have already been put into practice in at least nine provinces, in others pilot tests monitored by specialists are being carried out, while in the province of Buenos Aires, which has the highest school enrollment in the country, changes to the regime are being debated. academic to put into practice next year.

The latest test results Learn-which showed that only 53 students out of 100 complete compulsory schooling on time- added to the school experiences of the coronavirus pandemic, accelerated the need to introduce modifications at the secondary level to improve learning and make secondary school more attractive for the students.

Mendoza, Córdoba and Santa Fe are the provinces that are already applying changes in terms of evaluations, assistance and monitoring of school trajectories, while in others such as Santa Cruz and Formosa more emphasis is placed on promotion regimes, and in Misiones, Entre Ríos and Buenos Aires, the implementation of various modifications is being analyzed.

The recent decision of the province of Santa Fe to apply a continuous advance regime to banish repetition has put into debate whether this mechanism is the right one to recover unapproved content, in times of low performance after the pandemic.

An investigation by the Argentine Observatory for Education analyzed the official statistics ( Annual Survey of Schools and the Aprender 2019 test ) of the class of students who started 1st. grade in 2009 and who should have finished the last year of high school in 2020.

They found that, at the country level, of every 100 students who start primary school, only 53 reach the last year of high school in the expected time; and only 16 achieve satisfactory levels of learning in Language and Mathematics.

And also, that there is a lot of difference according to the provinces. The highest percentages of students who arrive on time and in proper form are registered in the City of Buenos Aires (33%), Córdoba (24%) and Tierra del Fuego (21%).

The researchers also found very high levels of repetition: 25% of students in their last year of secondary school are older than they should be. The data shows that there is a great "disruption" in the educational system, that is to say that, year after year, there are students who are repeating or abandoning their studies. Some drop out and resume later.

For the specialists, the data on "shelling" show the difficulty that Argentine students have to adapt to the secondary school format and, above all, to successfully pass their first two years.

Emilio Moreno, director of Mendoza Secondary Schools, told Télam that "the number of enrollment has improved with 10,000 students more than the 65,000 that there were in 2019, a figure that does not respond to new admissions but to having been able to retain third-year boys , fourth and fifth year ".

This achievement, as he explained, is due "in the first place to the pedagogical practice and also to the recovery of knowledge."

Mendoza "eliminated the old, elitist and conservative format with expository classes where only the teacher spoke and that no longer works, due to the active attitude of the student in the classroom," Moreno highlighted.

Another fundamental change was the evaluation system, "which is now formative and continuous, and the average no longer exists since all the subjects have to be approved".

"It is not easy, but it is approved when it is learned" , he affirmed.

Moreno indicated that in Mendoza they have been evaluating and observing that " repetition does not have positive results , and although it is not going to be eliminated, there are programs that are in tune with the recovery of knowledge, where they no longer give up at a table rather, students are accompanied through a process".

Gustavo Galli, director of Secondary Education for the province of Buenos Aires, pointed out to Télam the strong investment that there was in the pandemic to put content recovery programs into practice and the way out of it finds them "recovering valuable school experiences and rethinking a middle level together with directors and teachers".

"Issues such as the academic regime, institutional organization, evaluation and accreditation of knowledge, among others, are issues that will begin to be applied as of next year," he pointed out.

Galli also specified that they are evaluating with the students modifications to the institutional coexistence agreements , putting into debate what is related to the attendance, accreditation and promotion regime, and that they are discussing the question of repetition

"There is agreement among a wide range of specialists that repetition does not help to improve student learning. In a province with 4,000 secondary schools and 1.7 million students, it is It is logical that there are differences between the teaching teams, but we have to build a pedagogical model that goes beyond non-repetition as a synonym of ease", explained Galli.

And he argued that "we are not going to accept a system that is designed so that boys and girls learn less. Repeating is the prelude to abandonment and there is no point in repeating the same educational proposal for a whole year.We must learn from many schools that have already adopted a trajectory monitoring system and other evaluation models."

Sergio España, from the Education for All Civil Association, highlighted that "the integrated analysis of the data shows two sides of the system: it does not achieve that all students finish compulsory education and it does not achieve sufficient learning."

"It is a system in crisis due to the conflict between two social mandates: the traditional one, which understands middle school as a selection process for the university -regardless of those who remain along the way-; and the current mandate, which claims that everyone has a level of training that allows them to perform in life," he said.

The specialist specified that the reality revealed by the data "frustrates teachers, students, and families. It is not about ease or rigor; it is about reviewing what and how to teach."

Samanta Bonelli, a Cippec researcher, pointed out that "secondary schools have to change the way they approach boys. They have already changed and the school has enormous difficulties in this regard. It is designed based on a content structure and a very archaic academic regime that does not respond to the current reality".

"There are many provinces that have advanced, Cippec is working with Misiones, Mendoza and Entre Ríos to rethink high school. You have to focus on a minimum agenda so that the student can write well," she said.


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