More High-School Students Pass Graduation Exams

January 14, 2005

AFTER weeks of negotiations amongteachers’ unions, Ombudsman JoséManuel Echandi, disgruntled high-schoolstudents and government officials, thepercentage of students who have passedthe controversial exámenes de bachillerato,the state exams required to graduatefrom high school, has crept up more than12%.However, thousands of students notincluded in that figure will likely missdeadlines to register at their chosen universitiesthis month because the Ministry ofPublic Education has not yet addressedtheir appeals.“1,115 students are still in the appealsprocess,” Ombudsman’s Office spokesmanAhmed Tabash told The Tico Times thisweek. “The ministry has given an estimateof 10 days” for their resolution.Since the deadline to register for classesat the University of Costa Rica (UCR)has already come and gone, those studentswill not be able to attend the country’slargest public university this year – even ifthey passed the UCR entrance exam.ECHANDI hosted a meeting Dec. 7that included Minister of Public EducationMañuel Antonio Bolaños, Rodrigo Arias,president of the National Council ofUniversity Rectors, and Ricardo Guerrero,president of an association of private universityrectors.According to Tabash, meeting participantsagreed to push back the deadline ofthe University of Costa Rica (UCR) untillast Monday, and private universities’deadlines until Jan. 31.Officials from the public UniversidadNacional (UNA) in Heredia, north of SanJosé, announced this week they will extendthe registration deadline for students awaitingthe results of their ministry appeal untilJan. 21. Those students can register forclasses by providing proof of their appeal.THE initial results of this year’s graduationexams, which were administered inlate November, drew an angry responsefrom students and parents who said theexams were unreasonably difficult andinadequately aligned with the high-schoolcurriculum.Preliminary ministry estimates indicatedapproximately 50% of the 22,000 studentswho took the exams failed and thereforefaced retakes before being able toenroll in a university, regardless of theirhigh-school grades or scores on universityentrance exams.After a march brought an angry negotiatingteam of students, parents and teachers’union representatives to Minister Bolaños’office Dec. 13, Bolaños said he anticipatedthat percentage would rise to 60% after thecompletion of the appeals process, whichgives students a chance to show a questionfrom the test is flawed or has more than onecorrect answer (TT, Dec. 17, 2004).This prediction proved correct.According to figures released by the ministryon Monday, 62.09% of students havenow passed the bachillerato exams, a figuremuch closer to previous years’ promotionstatistics (64.35% in 2003, approximately66% in 2002 and 2001, and 60.51% in 2000).

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