The Public Education Act introduced in 2011 specifies that the performance of students has to be evaluated regularly by using marks and students and parents have to be informed about these on a regular basis.
Marks and grades used to evaluate student performance are as follows: excellent (5), good (4), satisfactory (3), pass (2) and fail (1). Behaviour and effort/diligence are evaluated on a four-grade scale: exemplary (5), good (4), varying (3) and poor (2).
Marks are recorded in the attendance book of the class, which includes students’ basic data. The grades are recorded in each student’s report book as well, which primarily aims at providing information for parents. Since the 2018/2019 school year, an electronic report system, the so-called KRÉTA (Public Education Registration and Study System) has been introduced in every school, to help teachers to easily record the study data and omissions of students in the electronic report system, even via a mobile application. Students and their parents can quickly and easily access their evaluations, absences, and messages, and they can also receive instant notifications on their mobile phone when an entry is added. Teachers tend to evaluate all students at least once a month in every subject and inform parents about the grades earned through an electronic reporting system. Parents certify that they have seen the school marks/assessment.
In case of formative assessment, in addition to giving grades, some schools also provide percentage and a written description of student performance. The assessment tools/methods applied are described in the pedagogical programme of the school.
The most frequently used tools of formative assessment are short oral tests, short written tests (taking 5-20 minutes) and the checking of written homework. The most widely used tools of summative assessment are end of topic tests (after completing a larger thematic unit) and mid-term or end-term assessment. These are usually made on the basis of the marks earned during formative and summative assessments throughout the school year. In addition, not so commonly used tools of summative assessment include the written summary of the topic of several lessons, written project works / oral presentations based on individual observations, experiments and data collection. A tool more rarely used is the annual or more frequent internal examination.
National Assessment of Basic Competences
The first National Assessment of Basic Competences (NABC) was carried out in 2001 with the primary aim of assessing the effectiveness of schools (source: general description about the national assessment of basic competences). During the past few years, the assessment system has developed in such a way that now it can inform students, parents and teachers about students’ individual development. The NABC is an annual assessment system which covers almost all students in grades 6, 8 and 10. It has been implemented since 2007 following the same procedures as determined by the Public Education Act and a Ministerial Decree (2011 CXC. Law on National Public Education and Law 20/2012. (VIII. 31.) of the Ministry of Human Capacities on the Operation of the Educational Institutions and the Use of Names of Public Educational Institutions). During the assessment, students complete mathematics and reading comprehension tests at the end of every school year in the last week of May. The tests are organised in four 45-minute sessions. Tests do not assess the extent to which students have acquired the knowledge prescribed by the syllabus of the given grade. Rather, they examine the extent to which students can apply their knowledge to solve real life problems. From the school year 2020/2021, the assessment is organised on a digital basis and includes the assessment of pupils’ science competences in addition to the previous two fields.
Assessment results are used for preparing a National Report as well as reports at the level of the maintainer, the institution, the school site and the individual student. The Student Report presents the student’s achievement on the test, the results broken down into tasks and the results compared to the national, the school and the class average. As a unique assessment ID is required to access the Student Report, such reports may only be viewed by the students, their parents and the school. The National Assessment of Basic Competences has already contributed to the improvement of diagnostic assessment in schools: the teaching staff of schools often analyse the results of their school together and a large number of teachers has received further training in this field.
Progression of students
The general rules applying to the progress of students are determined in the 2011 Act on Public Education.
At the end of each term and school year, the evaluation is expressed in the form of grades in every subject worked out on the basis of the interim grades given during the year and on the basis of student’s activity throughout the term/year. From the two grades, the one assigned at the end of the first term is for information but the year-end grade is a prerequisite for progressing to the next grade. Both the student and the parent have to be informed about the end-of-term and end-of-year grades. At the end of the first term, this information is provided by way of a report booklet or it’s available in the electronic class register, while at the end of the year it is provided by way of the annual school report. The annual school report is a public document.
It is a basic principle (set out in the Act on Public Education) that grades cannot be applied as a disciplinary instrument; they must reflect the student’s actual knowledge and performance. Schools and teachers increasingly comply with this criterion. The grades - like the marks during the course of the school year - appear in the form of a five-degree scale (excellent - 5, good - 4, satisfactory - 3, pass - 2 and fail - 1.). Behaviour and diligence are rated on the basis of a four-degree scale: exemplary - 5, good - 4, varying - 3 and poor/negligent - 2. The marks are given by the teacher and he/she makes a proposal for the year-end grade. Decision on the progress of the student to the next grade is made by the teaching staff based on their review of the year-end grades.
A student may progress to the next grade if she/he manages to fulfil the prescribed study requirements by the end of the school year, i.e. if - on the basis of his or her performance and marks during the year or his/her performance at the school’s examination - he or she receives at least a pass (2) grade. Decision on the necessity of repeating a given grade is to be made at the end of the school year by the teaching staff. Pursuant to law, parents can also request the re-take of the school year. The grade may have to be repeated if the student was given an unsatisfactory (1) grade in any subject. Before the beginning of the next school year, however, the student may have re-take examinations, theoretically irrespective of the number of subjects in need of improvement. In practice, however, this means one, two or rarely three subjects. The remedial exam can be taken at the school or before an independent examination board. For the latter students must apply in their school, but it is the responsibility of the Educational Authority to organize the exam.
Repeating a grade cannot be denied from the student until the end of the mandatory schooling age. A student must repeat the grade on a mandatory basis also when the total number of classes missed with or without justification exceeds the statutory maximum number and if the teaching staff did not permit the student to take the grading examination.
As long as the student does not pass the mandatory schooling age, grade repetition cannot entail expelling the student from the school. Indeed, if the student repeats the same grade for the second or third etc. time, the school must provide individual tutoring for the student to enable him/her to catch up. A general secondary grammar school may terminate the relationship with the student if the student fails to complete the given grade for the second time (by which time he or she has probably reached the end of the mandatory schooling age).
A parent representing a minor student may initiate a procedure against the certification of conduct, diligence, and studies if the certification is not in accordance with the local curriculum applied by the school, or if the certification procedure is in conflict with the law or the student status provisions. If the parent seeks legal remedy against the certification of the studies, the student may, in accordance with the procedure prescribed by law, take an exam before an independent examination board, which shall be organized by the county office of the county seat (20/2012. (VIII. 31.) Ministry of Human Capacities on the Operation of the Educational Institutions and on the Use of Names of Public Education Institutions).
The successful completion of upper secondary grammar school studies provides the student with a secondary-level qualification. However, students may proceed to higher education only if they pass the upper secondary school-leaving examination, which follows secondary-level education itself. The precondition of participating in the upper secondary school leaving exam is obtaining the final report of secondary education, that is, acquiring at least a pass grade from all subjects. Besides, this final report has to contain a statement that the student had successfully completed a 50-hour community service.
From certain subjects, it is possible to take an ‘early upper secondary school leaving examination’. Taking this early exam is relatively popular among students. It happens quite often that students take the early secondary school leaving exam from a given subject at the end of year 11 or even year 10. In some cases, students decide on taking this exam at the end of the year when they finish their studies from the given subject.
The exam has to be taken before an exam committee in Hungarian, in the language of an ethnic minority or in a foreign language. As described in the regulations concerning upper secondary school leaving examinations, students may view their written exams before the oral part and they can attach their individual evaluation to the official assessment.
As a closing examination, the upper secondary school leaving exam tests general knowledge. This is a state examination, which is to be organised in accordance with the standardised requirements across all upper secondary schools in Hungary. In 2005, the dual-level Upper Secondary School Leaving Examination system was introduced. The two-level upper secondary school leaving exam means that you can take the intermediate and advanced level exams for each subject. Intermediate level is sufficient to the issuance of the Upper Secondary School Leaving Examination Certificate. The advanced examination is intended to replace the previous entrance examination to higher education.
At least five subjects must be taken at the upper secondary school leaving examination. These include:
1.) Hungarian Language and Literature,
4.) Foreign Language – for students participating in minority education, it is mother tongue language and literature,
5.) One subject of the student’s choice.
In addition to compulsory subjects and compulsory electives, upper secondary school leaving exams may be taken from other subjects as well. The exam consists of several parts: oral, written and – in case of certain subjects – a practical part. The exam periods are in May-June and in October.
Students can switch between upper secondary grammar schools relatively freely, which often takes place after the family’s moving to a different location. It may also take place for other reasons at the parent’s request. A student is entitled to change programmes even without repeating the grade if this is allowed by the differences between the content of the two programmes. This is always decided by the head of the recipient school and he/she determines the subjects, if any, in which the student has to pass an equivalency exam.
When the student is suspected to be lacking some particular skill - e.g. dyslexia, dyscalculia –, various capabilities of the student may be examined by a committee designated for this purpose. The parent’s approval is necessary for this examination. Frequently, the decision taken by the committee results in exemption from fulfilling the minimum requirements of certain subjects (e.g. foreign language or mathematics). Such cases are more and more common. This does not obstruct the student’s progress to the next grade. By law, students are also permitted to complete more than one grade in a given school year with the permit of the school head. In such cases, however, he or she must pass a grading examination at the end of the year. This takes place in the case of particularly talented private students but it occurs very rarely.
At the end of each grade, students are provided with year-end school reports (certificates). The grades entered in the year-end school reports are based on the student’s performance during the school year, his or her marks received during the course of formative and summative assessments/evaluations and, on rare occasions, on the ratings achieved at the voluntary examinations organised by the school. Accordingly, the year-end school report is not preceded by a specific examination. Students in an individual student work schedule are an exception to this rule who give an account about their knowledge at the end of the year in the form of a grading examination. These private students take the exam along with students obliged to pass a re-take examination. Students who have to pass a re-take examination from a given subject had previously received an unsatisfactory (1) grade. In addition, those students who missed more classes than the prescribed maximum limit (30 % of all classes from a given subject) also have to pass a re-take exam.
The year-end school report is a public document the contents of which must be accepted until the contrary is proven. The year-end school report must be provided in Hungarian or, if teaching takes place in two languages, it must be provided in both languages. The school cannot refuse to issue a year-end school report on the basis of any excuse. The year-end school report contains the student’s name, identification data, grade, the titles of the subjects, the grade in a textual and in a numerical form, the field of comments, the date, the signature of the school head and the class teacher as well as the seal of the school.
The production and distribution of the Upper Secondary School Leaving Exam Certificate requires the permit of the Minister responsible for education. It is a public document. The certificate must be issued in Hungarian or, if teaching is conducted in two languages, it must be provided in both languages. In addition to the examinee’s data, the Upper Secondary School Leaving Exam Certificate contains the titles and levels of the examination subjects, the language of the examination and the result of the examination in terms of grades, textual and percentage form as well as the authenticating signatures and clauses. The Upper Secondary School Leaving Examination Certificate is issued by the examination board. The successful passing of the Upper Secondary School Leaving Examination is a prerequisite for obtaining the certificate.
If the student obtains the Upper Secondary School Leaving Exam Certificate, the document provides access to admission to higher education institutions or vocational education and training regardless of the results (grades) achieved in the examination. Also, some students may decide on taking up employment. The Upper Secondary School Leaving Examination Certificate entitles the student to enrol in any higher education institution if other admission requirements defined by that institution are also met.