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Matriculation exams could be eliminated

The head of Finland's National Board of Education says that the series of exams taken at the end of secondary school to qualify for entry into university need to either be completely reformed, or eliminated.

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Image: Tommi Parkkinen / Yle

Matriculation examinations are a series of tests that in practice are both high school final exams and form the basis for qualifying for university. A traditional feature of the Finnish educational system, they have become a hindrance to the development of secondary education, according to the Director General of Finland National Board of Education, Aulis Pitkälä.

"In their current form, matriculation examinations are a barrier to developing high schools because the focus is constantly on the exams. At very least, the examinations should be reformulated, but personally I'd be ready to get rid of them," Pitkälä told Yle on Monday.

According to Pitkälä, one alternative to eliminating matriculation examinations would be that they could replace the entrance exams held by individual universities.

Pitkälä pointed out that ways of measuring learning is undergoing a major transformation. In today's world it would be crucially important for students to be capable of judging their own competencies. A grade in some subject or on some test does not tell the whole story.

"Exams exist only to evaluate how much students have progressed. There are other ways to evaluate how well students have achieved learning targets," said Pitkälä.

The head of the National Board of Education conceded, however, that exams could not be eliminated overnight.

"New ways to evaluate student achievement still require a lot of development," Pitkälä noted.

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