San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

More than 10,000 Kids Fail Graduation Exams

In keeping with years past, only about 60% of Costa Rican teenagers in their last year of high school passed their recent graduation exams, the Public Education Ministry (MEP) announced this week. More than 10,000 students failed the exams.

The exámenes de bachillerato are worth 60% – with a student’s grade-point average from the last two years of school making up the other 40% – of the magic number that determines whether a student can graduate. An appeals process that gives failing students a chance to argue the flaws of certain questions is now under way, but with the current numbers, only 62.16% of the country’s students can graduate, the daily La Nación reported.

Public Education Minister Leonardo Garnier expressed dissatisfaction with these results, but added that the ministry may take a tougher line on appeals this year than in 2005, before Garnier took office. This year, in grading the tests, the ministry’s Quality Control Division, which automatically annuls any question answered incorrectly by more than 80% of students, annulled six questions on the math exam – perennielly the most difficult test, with a passing rate this year of 72.39%. In 2005, 16 questions were eliminated, resulting in a 78% passing rate, the daily reported.

“There are people who think the tough questions should be eliminated because they’re bad, but a well-made test has to have tough questions,” Garnier said Wednesday.

Lucía Cordero Espinoza, of San Nicolás de Heredia High School north of San José, achieved the country’s highest average score on the tests, 98.60%.


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