Shockingly low results from national language matura exam

“That was shock. National Centre of Examination (NCE) in the same day, 3rd July showed the results from mathematics and Lithuanian language. It went out that I got maximum grade from mathematics – 100 points, but from Lithuanian language I got 0… I was sure that I will pass this exam, who did it happen that I got this result? – asked this year graduate A.A from junior high school of the name of Jan Śniadecki in Sołeczniki.

Matura results from Lithuanian language are much worse than last year’s. This was felt by students from minority schools in Lithuania. If schools with Lithuanian language the main language is Lithuanian the national exam from Lithuanian was not passed by every 10 student that in schools with Polish and Russian language – every 5th.

This year’s graduate A.A from junior high school of the name of Jan Śniadecki is still waiting for the results from biology and chemistry. She was passing them because she was planning to apply for medicine school. On Friday, 7th July, there was retake of Lithuanian language on the school base. Unfortunately this exam cross the dreams about medical schools financed by the government. A.A who had 9 grade every year from Lithuanian language appealed to NCE for another consideration of the exam.

– In my exam work I wrote about the topic of nationality and background, and beside writing about this I wrote also about creativeness of the indicated author on the beginning of my essay. I wrote also about national minorities who live in Lithuania – the Polish, Russians. I wrote about the Polish who want to show their identity, about problems they meet. My Lithuanian teacher graded my essay well – tell us graduate from Soleczniki.

It is concerning that the exam was not passed by people who had very good grades from Lithuanian, but the exam went well for students who misunderstood idea of author and main character of the piece.

– I was not expecting that I will not pass Lithuanian, because I read all of the literature recommended for the exam. I write without mistake, I can properly make a structure of the essay. I showed my piece of essay to my Lithuanian teacher, who told me that my essay could be even graded with the minimum but not this way. Is it possible that first paragraphs were too much built, but is it a reason for failing whole essay? – tells us graduate B.B from junior high school of Jan Śniadecki.

She knows the score from Russian which she passed for 91 points. She is still waiting when NCE will show the results from history. She appealed to NCE and the answer is expected before 18th July. The girl wanted to study in Kowno law and police activity. She passed the physical test for the school. Unfortunately she cannot study for free because of negative grade from Lithuanian. The negative grade made her college from the same class Ewa Czetyrkowska shocked.

– After passing the exam I was glad that I wrote the essay well. I chose the topic “A look at a man from the margins of society in Lithuanian literature” (authors – Jonas Biliūnas, Jurgis Savickis, Marcelijus Martinaitis). In the essay I established the idea of society margins, I showed what is the view of the person in margins in the literature, I referred to 2 authors – all of the ideas were explained and I showed necessary arguments. I was very calm about my essay – says Ewa.

The graduate told that grammar is not her strong point but she has good knowledge of the literature.

– I read a lot, I love Polish literature, universal, and I read recommended Lithuanian literature. In my essay I wrote not only about historical concept but also about cultural and literary. I was sure that I passed. I am not stupid I know what I tell and write about – said Ewa.

She is telling that in preparations to the exam she put so much effort.

– I am so sad. I did not sleep many nights, I was learning, I was reading complementary literature, I wrote additional essays. I saw other exam essays which were graded with the maximum number of points. I was doing everything to pass with a good result. I was working really hard for 8 grade which I got as the end of the year result at school. I was hoping to study architecture, I passed quite good entry exams and I was hoping for free studies. I do not know now if I will even get a place on university… – she is considering.

– Write it please, I want to be heard – adds Ewa. – Lithuanian for the contemporary youths, never mind, Lithuanian or Polish, cannot be an enemy with the weapon in the hand. How can it be demanded for young people to be good Lithuanian citizens, when native language is ruining their lives. This is unclear, sad, and scary for me.

As she points out this is not excluded that if she goes to the court with the case. In the overall in Sołeczniki region the matura from Lithuanian was not passed by 28,26% of students so 39 people.

– This year’s results from Lithuanian in Sołeczniki region are worse than last year’s. If last year’s matura was not passed by 15,9% of students (22 people) then this year – 28,26% (39 people) – we are informed by Regina Kozarevskaja, the specialist of the education in Sołeczniki region, responsible for the matura in the region.

– In Sołeczniki region Lithuanian matura exam was written by 138 students. No one got maximum number of points – 100 (there was one score like that one year ago. One person passed the exam with score from 86 to 99 points. The rest of the candidates passed from 36 to 85 points.

– I think that the reason for such a weak results is lack of the motivation to learn, lack of the knowledge of literary pieces. Many of students were coming to the exams with miss the hit attitude because there is possibility of the retake on 7th July. All of the teachers are specialists, they work. From a few years Polish and Lithuanian schools work with unified programs – tells Regina Kozarevskaja. With 39 of candidate who did not pass the exam in Sołeczniki region, 20 of them were learning in minority schools. The graduated from junior high school of Michał Baliński in Jaszuny had a little bit more luck.

– It was not bad. Nine of the graduated, one did not pass Lithuanian, but just such a result could be expected. One student got a good grade – 87 points, the rest received the points according to the annual assessment – says Irena Kropienė, a Lithuanian from junior high school of Michał Baliński in Jaszuny in the Sołeczniki region.

As she points out, the assessment of the examination work is quite subjective and to a certain extent also depends on who works on this examination.

– Evaluating the work is sometimes based on your own view. It is difficult to objectively assess the content of the work. Often on different topics in the essay, teachers have extremely different opinions. Someone would leave the sentence as it is, someone else would write completely different. I think that, for example, the test leaves no room for interpretation. The student receives a specific question and must answer it specifically, use a specific grammatical form, etc. And yet the test of knowledge of the student is not only the ability to write the essay – believes the Lithuanian teacher.

As she says, the work cannot be a measure of the student’s actual knowledge. – A dreamed student is supposed  to have an engineering degree, must be able to demonstrate his ability to write essays, which is absurd. On engineering, mathematical courses, the ability to write essays is not the most important. Besides, the best essay will not examine half of what the student knows, says Irena Kropienė.

Can students from Polish schools have a chance to learn Lithuanian at native level?

– Polish schools gradually increase the number of hours for learning Lithuanian, but it is still lower than in Lithuanian schools. Students from Lithuanian beginner classes have 5, 6 and 7 hours of Lithuanian lessons per week, whereas in Polish schools it is only 4 hours, while many first-class students come to Lithuanian with no knowledge of Lithuanian. They hear Lithuanian only in lessons, while the Lithuanians carry him first and foremost from the house, they also hear him in other lessons. Explains the Lithuanian teacher.

As she says, students have difficulty with spelling nasal vowels, particular forms of verbs that need to be simply cared. Over time, they are forgotten, they need to be repeated continually.

– There is no systematic teaching of the Lithuanian language. Lithuanian program have been standardized but books are still missing. In this school year, the seventh grade worked without textbooks. Since September new program are available for grades six and eight. The question arises: will we receive help on time? Meanwhile, our car runs in front of the horse, because the new program is, but the textbook is not – says Irena Kropienė.

According to the unified programs, the students of the fifth, seventh and ninth classes started the Lithuanian language in the past school year. Schools were supposed to decide on their own whether to start the study according to a unified program also in the early grades.

Beginning September 1, 2017, the standardized curriculum will begin with all grades 1-10. New programs have come into force instead of the old ones: the Lithuanian (native) program for Lithuanian schools and the Lithuanian (national) language program for minority schools.

It is not easy to prepare for the Lithuanian exam at the same level as Lithuanian students. I learned a lot, I read special literature, abiturient outlines, it cost me a lot of effort – says Alina Turkot for “Kurier Wileński” from junior hugh school. Michał Baliński in Jaszuny, who scored 87 points on Lithuanian matura exam.

In her opinion, Lithuanian cannot become a second mother tongue. There is only one native language for me, Polish (Alina is the finalist of the International Literature and Polish Language Olympiad in Warsaw). Lithuanian language is essential for communication in Lithuania, but the Lithuanian exam is much more costly for Polish school students, claims Jaszun.

– We have always thought and continue to say that mother tongue and learned language are not the same. The unification of the Lithuanian exam was pointless (if not taking into account the aim that the initiators of this idea had in mind). It limits the possibility of going to higher education institutions for state-sponsored places – says for “Kurier Wileński” Józef Kwiatkowski, president of the Association of Teachers of Polish Schools in Lithuania “The School Mother”. This year, for the fifth time, the junior high school graduates applied for a unified exam in Lithuanian language and literature. It was unified by introducing amendments to the Education Act in 2011.
– We were promised a pilot study on student skills each October, and new discounts and criteria for the next exam will be issued. Meanwhile, nothing is heard about them – said Józef Kwiatkowski. – Students need communication skills and writing skills, not the ability to write perfect essays.

The amendment to the Education Act was introduced despite the sharp opposition of the Polish community in Lithuania, who spoke about their expectations in petitions, numerous rallies and marches. Despite this, under the law, students have been subject to a uniformly imposed Lithuanian exam, despite significant differences in the Lithuanian program in minority schools and Lithuanian language schools, and in spite of the much smaller hours (800 hours less) allocated to learning the national language in Polish schools. The standardized Lithuanian matura examinations have been in place since 2013.

“Reduced Criteria for Assessment”, applied to students of national minorities schools, allows one to make one more lexical, stylistic, spelling mistake (when giving the maximum number of points for correctness).

At the minimum number of points awarded, the number of errors allowed increases. According to these criteria, a maximum of 5 points for linguistic correctness can be obtained by a pupil of a Lithuanian school who has committed 0 to 1 mistake, while a pupil of a national minority school in this category may commit 0 to 2 errors.

4 points are awarded for committing 2 linguistic errors at work of Lithuanian pupil and 3-5 mistakes respectively – Polish school. When evaluating spelling, the highest number of points, 7, is awarded to a Lithuanian school student who commits a 0 to 1 error and to a Polish school student who may commit 0 to 2 errors.

Criteria for evaluating punctuation errors are identical for schools with Polish and Lithuanian teaching languages.

The Lithuanian exam is mandatory – without it, it is impossible to obtain a matura exam. Successful submission of the Lithuanian State Exam is a privilege for university-sponsored university studies, so you can apply for a college exam in Lithuanian and literature.

MATURA IN NUMBERS

32,572 – so many people have joined this year to pass their matura exam.

18 525 – so many candidates came forward to pass a state examination of Lithuanian language and literature, of which 17 559 studied in schools with Lithuanian language teaching

966 Lithuanian speakers were trained in schools where teaching is done in the languages ​​of national minorities.

89.04% All the junior high school graduates passed the state examination of the Lithuanian language (in 2016 this result was 89.76%).

89.50% Took an exam from Lithuanian schools with Lithuanian teaching language

80.74% Has made an examination of Lithuanian minority schools (last year 87.87 percent)

100 points – maximum rating – received 0.71 percent. All the people who made Lithuanian state

0.2% Graduates (2 persons) from the Polish and Russian schools received a maximum of 100 points on the Lithuanian examination

98.51% The candidates passed a state examination of English, “hundreds” received 866 people (4.26%).

99,65% The candidates passed a state examination of Russian (as foreign), 100 points. It received 176 candidates (10.13 percent).

98.75% Candidates have taken a state examination in German

99.64 percent. Graduates have passed the Polish exam

Source: http://kurierwilenski.lt/2017/07/07/szokujaco-slabe-wyniki-matury-z-jezyka-panstwowego/

Tłumaczenie by Marcin Trusewicz w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Marcin Trusewicz within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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