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Bulgaria Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

October 26, 2021

Original Article: https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-policies/eurydice/content/assessment-general-upper-secondary-education-8_en

Pupil/Students Assessment

Assessment is internal and external. The teacher is the one who does internal assessment. The school principal, the school board, and administrative officers from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Science, the Regional Inspectorates of Education, National Boards of State Matriculation Exam Assessment, Boards for Assessment Vocational Qualification Exams conduct external assessment.

Students’ assessment is done in different formats:

  • On-going assessment – through oral examinations, written examinations, practical examinations.
  • Exams – score corrective exams at the end of grade 12, state matriculation exams after completing grade 12, examinations for acquisition of vocational qualification after completion of vocational education;
  • Assessment for establishing the level of attainment of the state educational requirements for study content – for a certain grade, stage or level of education.

Assessment is done using a six-point rating system – the grades awarded are: Excellent (6), Very good (5), Good (4), Fair (3) and Poor (2).

Current, term and annual grades are awarded during the academic year on compulsory, core curriculum optional (specialized and general education studies) and free elective studies. Final grades on all academic subjects are awarded on completion of secondary education.

The students’ entrance level is assessed at the beginning of every school year. In case students are dissatisfied with their academic performance over their upper secondary education on completing grade 12 they can sit for up to 3 correction exams in subjects per grade of their choice.

After the successful completion of grade 12, students sit for state matriculation exams. The compulsory state matriculation exams are two. They are specified in the curriculum. One of them is in Bulgarian Language and Literature, and the other one – according to the student’s choice. If a students wishes, he/she can sit for a third state matriculation exam(s) on a subject of his choice among the compulsory or the core curriculum optional subjects according to the corresponding school curriculum. Students who want to continue their education at a higher education institution have to pass successfully the two compulsory matriculation exams in order to receive a diploma. The rest receive a certificate for having completed upper secondary education and can sit for matriculation exams whenever they decide to in the following years.

General education state matriculation exams are in the format of standardized tests in two examination versions according to the subject syllabi and the examination syllabi. They are developed on the basis of the study content covered during compulsory education according the respective curriculum. Students are examined on only one of the versions, randonmly chosen on the day of the exam. Subject syllabi and examination syllabi are adopted with an Ordinance of the Minister of Education, Youth and Science, and for schools funded by the budget of another ministry or institution – after being coordinated with the respective minister or head of institution. State matriculation exams can be administered as oral, written, or practical depending on the subject. Their format and duration are determined by the respective subject and examination syllabi. State exams for acquiring a degree in vocational qualification comprise an exam in the theory of the profession and speciality and an exam in the practice of the profession and speciality. Students’ state matriculation exam marks are valid for university enrollment under conditions stipulated by every university.

Assessment is a systematic process of establishing and measuring the achieved learning outcomes and the level of readiness of students for their future realization. An indicator of the degree of achievement of these results is the evaluation. The object of assessment are the competencies of the students, acquired as a result of the training. The assessor acquaints the students in advance with the educational content, the competencies, the organization and the form of the assessment, as well as with the specific rules according to which they will be assessed. The main objectives of the assessment are two: 

1. diagnosis of the individual achievements and progress of the student and determination of his learning needs and the areas in which he needs support and 

2. monitoring of the educational process for implementation of policies and measures aimed at to improve the quality of education.

The assessments from the national external assessment at the end of VII and at the end of X class are expressed only in quantitative indicators - in number of points. The students with special educational needs (SEN), who are trained in an individual school programme, shall be assessed only by quality indicator, which may be: "achieves the requirements", "copes with …" and "meets difficulties". Students with SEN who cannot take written and / or practical exams take only oral exams in the learning process.

In addition to oral examinations, in the course of their studies students take written, practical exams, a combination of written and oral part, a combination of written and practical part. When а student from VIII to XII grade including is transferred in a class of the same or in another school, if the school curriculum for the respective class of the host school and the school from which the student is transferred are developed on the basis of different framework or type curricula equalizing tests are taken in the subjects of general education, in the compulsory modules in the profiling subjects and / or in the subjects of vocational training, which are not studied in the class from which the student comes. When admitting a student from a joint school in places determined by the additional state admission plan in XI grade, when the school curriculum of the host school and the school where the student is educated in the first high school stage are developed on the basis of different framework or standard curricula, equalizing tests are taken in the subjects of general education and / or vocational training, which are not studied in the class from which the student comes. A person who has interrupted his / her studies and wishes to continue his / her studies and restore his / her status as a student shall also take equalizing tests if the current framework curriculum, on the basis of which the respective school curriculum has been developed, is different from the framework or standard curriculum. on the basis of which the school curriculum has been developed, according to which the person has started his / her education in the respective degree, as well as a student who has completed a certain period or class of school education, stage of education or acquired primary education or professional qualification in a foreign school , in the process of recognition of which, in comparison with the current framework curriculum, on the basis of which the school curriculum was developed, a difference was found in the subjects / modules studied by the student. The provision is also applied at the completed period, class or stage of education in the system of the European schools. As a result of the passed equalizing tests a term or annual assessment is set.

Examinations for changing the annual mark - for VII grade, for XI grade and for XII grade and exams for changing the final mark at the end of the first and second high school stage of secondary education can also be taken. Students have the right to take a one-time exam to change the final mark in no more than three subjects in total. For the change of the final mark in a subject, which is studied only in one class of the first or the second high school stage, only an exam for change of the annual mark is allowed. The received mark cannot be changed. When the student has not passed the examination for a change of the mark, shall repeat the grade.

The objectives of the external assessment at the end of the class or at the stage of the degree are:

1. diagnostics of the individual progress and of the educational needs of the students;

2. monitoring of the educational process for implementation of policies and measures aimed at improving the quality of education;

3. establishing the degree of achievement of separate expected results from the education in a subject, determined in the curriculum for the respective class;

4. establishing the degree of achievement of separate expected results from the education in a subject, determined in the state educational standard for general education preparation in the respective subject, at the end of a given stage of the degree of education

For the high school degree, external assessment is performed upon completion of the first high school stage of the secondary level of education. In addition to the main objectives, the national external assessment at the end of the first high school stage of secondary education aims to measure the degree of achievement of certain competencies related to the Bulgarian language and functional literacy in reading, as well as mathematics and mathematical literacy acquired in the classes of the stage. The exams are conducted in the form of a test.

Acquired competencies through non-formal and informal learning are subject to validation and are assessed by passing one or more exams. When the validation of competencies is for one class of one subject studied for the acquisition of general education or vocational training, the examination is one and is taken on the curriculum defined in the respective curriculum for the subject. When the validation of competencies is for one class in all subjects studied for the acquisition of general education or vocational training, the examinations are in each of the subjects and are taken on the curriculum defined in the respective subject curricula. When the validation of competencies is for all classes of the stage in one subject studied for the acquisition of general education, the exam is one and is taken on the curriculum defined in the state educational standard for general education in the subject.

The state exams are written and the exam papers are checked as anonymous. Except two compulsory state high matriculation examination upon own wish, the finishing high school student may take up to 2 additional state matriculation examinations in selected by him school subjects among the school subjects Bulgarian Language and Literature, Foreign Language (English, French, German, Italian, Spanish or Russian), Mathematics, Informatics, IT, Physics and Astronomy, Biology and Health Education, Chemistry and Environment Protection, History and Civilization, Geography and Economy and Philosophy.

Progression of Pupils/Students

After a student completes a certain grade he/she is eligible to progress into the next grade if his/her annual grades in all academic subjects from  the compulsory, core curriculum optional or specialized studies are not lower than Fair (3.00). Students who get a Poor (2.00) mark, sit for a corrective exam in the respective subject(s) in no more than two regular corrective examination sessions during the academic year. The sessios are administered after the end of the school year in June or July or from 1st to 13th September according to a procedure, specified by an order of the school headmaster. Students who do not sit for the corrective exam or get a Poor (2) grade repeat the grade with the exception of those who are in their last year at upper secondary school. Completion of a high school grade is certified by pupil’s grade book.

Certification

Diploma of completed secondary education is issued to students who have completed grade 12 and have passed the state matriculation exams. The diploma is issued according to the state educational requirements for the level of education, the general education minimum and curriculum and for the statutory documents on the system of public education. The diploma is issued by the school, in which the pupil has completed grade 12.

If the pupil has not passed the state matriculation exams he is issued a certificate of completed last grade of upper secondary education, which entitles him/her to continue his/her vocational education for acquiring qualification in a given profession.

Completed secondary vocational education is certified by a diploma for completed secondary education, certificate of professional qualification and competence. Certificates of professional qualification are issued to students who have completed 12th grade who have passed the state matriculation exams for acquisition of vocational qualification according to the state educational requirements for vocational education and training, for acquisition of qualification in given professions and for the system of assessment. Students trained at vocational schools, vocational upper secondary schools and art schools (at upper secondary level) also acquire a degree of professional qualification. According to the Vocational Education and Training Act the degrees of vocational qualification are four and the fourth degree is attained through training after completing secondary education. Completion of secondary education at a respective school leads to the attainment of second (4-year duration of studies) and third degree (5 or 6-year duration of studies) of vocational qualification.

Diplomas for completed secondary education and certificates of professional qualification issued by schools are also registered in a software program, kept up by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Science.

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