Large-Scale Final Exams Fraud Suspected
THE HAGUE, 22/06/13 - Teachers have plenty of opportunities to give their pupils overly high exam marks. The statutorily required check on exams by neutral assessors is generally not carried out, De Volkskrant reported Friday.
Final exam papers are first seen by the pupils’ own teacher, who marks them based on a correction model from the national Cito institute. To guard against fraud taking place, the exam then goes to a lecturer at a school elsewhere in the Netherlands who does not know the pupils at all.
Research by Cito has now shown that 65 percent of the final exams are not fully checked or not checked at all for the second time, as is prescribed by law. “The second correction of final exams is a farce,” says the paper.
The importance of a proper second correction is great, because the same Cito report shows that many teachers give too lenient a marking in the first correction. In some courses, the average differs by more than one point.
Third correctors brought in by Cito in all cases came up with a lower figure than originally awarded by the pupil’s own teacher. Cito speaks of “strategic-opportunistic” marking.
"It is downright fraud,” says philosophy lecturer Paul Hirsch. "Every teacher has known this for years, but nobody speaks out about it to the outside world. It is a taboo.”
The Cito report came out in March, but remained under the radar, De Volkskrant comments. An effort has already been made by Education State Secretary Sander Dekker to change the system, but school boards, teachers and umbrella organisations such as the VO Council and teachers union AOb blocked this.
The newspaper said Dekker wanted to reverse the correction order; the exams should be assessed by a stranger’s eyes and then by the pupil’s own teacher. But the sector wriggled out of the proposal because they wanted more money for the correction work.
It can be assumed that fraud is being committed on a large scale. One suspect school is the Islamic school of Ibn Ghaldoun in Rotterdam, which was the fourth best in the Netherlands last year based on its results. In 2007, it was still one of the worst.
This year, 27 exams were stolen from Ibn Ghaldoun’s safe by pupils. Not one teacher said they had noticed anything of the theft.