Moldova and Romania: Sharing Experience on School Graduation Examinations
To modernize its baccalaureate exams and make its outcomes assessment system of student learning more transparent and reliable, the Government of Moldova participated in a learning exchange with Romania. As a result of the exchange, Moldova significantly increased its knowledge and ability to develop a modernized and more comprehensive, robust and safe testing system.
The Government of Moldova sought to reform the baccalaureate examination as part of a national priority for improving the quality and reliability of student assessment and educational outcomes. In 2011 the Government began the long process of overhauling its baccalaureate examination system, seeking to make it more fair, transparent, reliable, and modern. They also began to revise the content, improve the consistency of the grading system, and reduce the chance of tampering with individual test results.
However there were deficiencies in policies, rules, standards, and other formal incentives guiding the pursuit of the overhaul of the baccalaureate examination systems in Moldova. Romania had experienced success in reforming its examination system by using video monitoring during the examination process, elaborating and implementing a personal data protection policy, organizing the test (item) bank, and using ICT in disseminating the examination tests. Moldova recognized an opportunity to learn from Romania.
The Government of Moldova contacted its counterpart in the Romanian National Education Ministry, and also requested support from the South-South Facility trust fund to sponsor a learning exchange between Romania and Moldova. The Moldovans hoped to learn how the Romanians had progressed in the reform of its examination system, including the quality of service, quick response post-examinations, information confidentiality with exams; and its robust and safe repository of exam questions.
To facilitate this learning, four expert visits were organized as part of the exchange. The first visit took place in September 2013. A Romanian delegation of three decision-makers in assessment and national testing and representatives of the Romanian National Center for Assessment and Examination went to Moldova to present different ways of reporting results of national tests. The presentation focused on data analysis methodologies and their utilization in formulation of recommendations for the next year.
The second visit to Moldova took place between April and May 2014. Romanian experts from the National Center for Assessment and Examination focused on assessment in primary education. Discussions, exchange of experiences, and training were carried out for nearly 25 staff participants from Moldova Quality Assurance Agency. Romanian experts also delivered training and provided technical assistance to 20 local experts on the “Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) International Testing”.
The third visit took place in May 2014 with a group of 10 Moldovans traveling to Romania to attend training focused on improving the testing process. For the final visit, also in May 2014, three PISA experts from Moldova visited Romania to learn about good practice approaches in functioning of an assessment and examination agency.
The exchange provided participants with much needed exposure to a successful case of reforming an examination and student assessment system:
- Raised awareness on policies, strategies, and plans in terms of what works and does not work in the administration of the baccalaureate examination. This awareness allowed the Moldovan participants to later incorporate tried and tested strategies into its ongoing national assessment planning process.
- Enhanced knowledge and skills on testing improvements and test administration of the Baccalaureate National Examinations, which resulted in the incorporation of a more modern, robust, comprehensive, and safe new (test) item bank. It also resulted in policies that should improve quality of service, quicken response post-examination, and enhance information confidentiality during and after the exams.
- Increased implementation know-how by demonstrating how Romania developed a process and overcame challenges for reforming its examination system. As a result, the Moldovan officials were able to fine-tune its national assessment system.
- Supporters of exchanges should consider the time it takes for proper approvals and buy-in from the appropriate officials within government offices. It is easy to underestimate the time needed for the staff, particularly in government ministries, to get approvals from their superiors, which can lead to challenges in organizing exchanges and getting maximum participation from those who could benefit from participating. As observed during this exchange, this directly impacts the available time that organizers have to fully implement the desired exchange activities.
- When the activities that form the exchange are part of a larger agenda of the participating agency (for example, a Ministry), it is more likely that the learning and sharing among participants will be sustainable as lessons observed are directly applicable to ongoing work.
- Agencies participating in knowledge exchanges should be sure to allocate sufficient time for its staff to benefit from knowledge exchanges.
The World Bank’s primary contribution to this exchange was in the form of financial and logistical support to Ministry officials and experts involved in the exchange.
Providing knowledge during this exchange were officials and experts from the Ministry of Education and Scientific Research of Romania. Directly involved were those responsible for student assessment and national examinations in the country, including the National Center for Assessment and Examinations.
Since the exchange, the Ministry of Education in Moldova continues to strengthen the national and international assessments. In particular, there have been (a) adjustments in the organization of the baccalaureate process and test evaluation methodology; (b) improvement of the assessments in primary education through new methodology, the development of descriptors, and strengthening criteria assessments; and (c) application of PISA in 2015. Additionally by June 2015 all 4th, 9th, and 12th graders will participate in the annual student assessment, using a revised exam that is based on the knowledge gained from the exchange.
The Moldovan participants comprised Ministry of Education staff responsible for student assessments, including representatives from the Moldovan Quality Assurance Agency. Approximately 50 persons, including potential test evaluators benefitted from this knowledge exchange. As such, the exchange has led to strengthening the assessment agency of the Ministry of Education of Moldova and, indirectly, to the Ministry itself.
Ministry of Education of Moldova website