A wide range of diagnostic assessment, used to measure pupils’ actual knowledge and ability levels, as well as formative and summative assessment, applied in connection with the assessment of their study progress and learning development, is used in the practice of the Hungarian single structure schools.
Diagnostic measurement are typically linked to school changes. School admission tests applied in the period of kindergarten-to-school transition and at the first grade of single structure school belong to such diagnostics. Kindergartens, pedagogical assistance services and expert committees use various assessment tools. However, DIFER (Diagnostic Development Test System) of Hungarian development is increasingly used. This system of tools can be effectively used in kindergarten, in the period of transition from kindergarten to school and for lower graders in the diagnostics of criteria-oriented development of students’ cognitive abilities and their development.
A national system of diagnostic measurements has been developed and applied since 2001 through the National Assessment of Basic Competences: grade 6, 8 and 10 students complete their reading comprehension and mathematical skills test in the spring of each school year. The results of assessment are published on institutional, school and site aggregation by the end of February of the year following the measurement. These reports are publicly accessible on the Educational Authority's website. In addition, institutions may further analyse their results on their own merits. The information in the school reports allow the institution to analyse their own work, and to compare the performance with similar, or significantly different schools. The large amount of data presented in the school report makes it possible for the outsider to get a more nuanced picture of the schools. Not only does the assessment measure performance on an absolute scale, but with the help of the Family Background Index, which displays the socio-cultural background of students, it also shows the extremely valuable pedagogical performance of schools that do not deal with the most talented students. In addition, since the 2010 measurement, the development of individual pupils has been tracked in an almost unique way among measurement systems, thus providing an insight into the developmental impact of the school.
Natural science competences are also measured from the school year 2021/2022.
Test materials suitable for measuring basic skills and abilities are published on the Educational Authority’s website, and are free for implementation, and the results can be evaluated using the software, which is also available on the Authority’s site (National Skills and Abilities Data Recording and Analysis Program). The diagnostic, criteria-oriented measurement – from skills and abilities essential to learning and intellectual development – assesses the components of mother tongue, mathematical and reasoning skills: reading, writing, and numeracy; the current state of systematic and combinatorial ability for each student in the age group.
With regard to the development of pupils’ knowledge and personality and the measurement of expectations from the grade, the Public Education Act stipulates that pupils performance should be systematically evaluated and parents should be provided with regular, detailed and meaningful information. Schools are free to decide how to do this, but they must regulate it in their pedagogical programme.
A student whose individual ability and level of development necessitates – on the basis of the opinion of the Committee of Experts – the head shall exempt from the rating of marks and grades, and prescribe to be rated textually instead.
The method of assessment of student achievement is regulated under the Act on Public Education. Educators shall regularly evaluate the performance and progress of students during the academic year by marks and assess their half-year and year-end achievements by grades. Half-year and year-end grades shall be based on the marks obtained. The Act on Public Education provides for the use of a five-step scale for the evaluation and assessment of students’ knowledge as follows: very good (5), good (4), satisfactory (3), pass (2) and fail (1). Students’ conduct should be assessed on a four-step scale as follows: exemplary (5), good (4), varying (3), bad (2). The evaluation of students’ diligence differs from that of students’ conduct only in the designation of the lowest mark, i.e. “indolent”. Requirements for each mark and grade of conduct and diligence are set out in the school’s pedagogy programme and house rules. In the first grade the mid-term and a year-end school report, in the second grade the mid-term school report contains marks in written form. It must be expressed in the report that the student has performed excellently, well or satisfactorily, or needs to catch up. With an approved framework curriculum or the permission of the Minister responsible for education, a school may decide and lay down in its pedagogy programme that students’ performance is evaluated in writing at the end of second grade and in higher grades too. If the school does not use the forms of assessment specified by law, but it is necessary due to a change of school or further education and the pupil or his/her parents request, the school is obliged to complete the mid-term and year-end assessments with grades. The local curriculum should also clarify how the assessments in its own evaluation system can be converted to marks and grades.
Marks acquired during the year shall be regularly reported to the pupil and the parents. The grade is given by the school through the pupils report card. In the mid-term report and in the year-end certificate, the grades are also presented in writing with letters.
The teacher teaching a particular subject is responsible for awarding marks. Marks scored by a pupil should be taken as a basis for his/her assessment at the end of the school year. Assessment and evaluation of a pupil’s conduct and diligence are the responsibilities of the class teacher, after seeking the opinion of the rest of class teachers and subject to the approval of the teaching staff. It is the school’s teaching staff that should collectively decide on whether or not a student is allowed to pass to a higher grade after taking stock of the marks and grades awarded to the student at the end of the school year.
Formative assessment of a pupil’s progress and development takes place on an ongoing basis. Teachers are free to select and use particular tools and methods used for the purposes of formative assessment, within the framework laid down in the school’s local curriculum. Recitation (oral delivery of lessons), when a pupil should, in the classroom, recite memorized minor units of the curricular material in response to the teacher’s questions, is the most popular tool of formative assessment. Since this tool is quite time-consuming to use, especially in higher grades, short essays and answers in writing by all pupil simultaneously in a relatively short period of time (5 to 20 minutes), as well as the checking of written homework are widely used within the framework of specialist education. The final essay that pupils have to write at the end of each major unit of the curricular material, the written report on the material of several lessons and, rarely, the internal exam taken in alternative schools are the tools of summative assessment. In lower grades, summative assessment frequently uses various symbols (red dot or tale figures), too. Teachers aim at assessing each pupil’s achievement in each subject at least once a month. They use pupils’ report cards to register marks and comments for the information of parents. A parent should certify by his/her signature that he/she has written and acknowledged the school assessment or mark. An increasing number of schools also have an electronic report card, which, in addition to strict data protection, can only be accessed by the pupil and his or her parents.
In alternative schools and in the context of certain school development projects, the tool of student’s portfolio assessment is already used but to an insignificant extent.
Progression of Pupils
A pupil may pass to a higher school grade if he/she successfully fulfils the prescribed study requirements by the end of the school year, i.e. he/she has scored, on the basis of his/her mid-year study achievement or performance at the supplementary examination, at least a pass (2) mark in each subject. A pupil who has failed a subject at the end of the school year is allowed to sit a repeat exam before the start of the next school year. His/her progress to the next grade is conditioned on the successful exam passing (achieving at least a pass mark). The pupil whose total justified and unjustified absence from school exceeds the maximum permissible period specified by law – thus his/her performance during the school year could not be assessed with a grade – should repeat the grade unless he/she is allowed by the teaching staff to take a supplementary examination.
A pupil whose individual ability and level of development necessitates – on the basis of the opinion of the Committee of Experts – the head shall exempt from the rating of marks and grades, and prescribe to be rated textually instead.
In order to support the effective preparation of a grade 1-4 student, if necessary, the school should facilitate individual sessions at least twice a week. This provision shall be applied also if a student subject to compulsory schooling fails to complete the same class for the second subsequent time.
Compulsory schooling can be completed starting from grade 5 in 8-grade; form grade 7 in 6-grade secondary institutions. Enrolment can be completed at the discretion of the student or the parents. School admission shall be decided by the head of the secondary school, solely on the basis of the learning outcomes or the results of the centrally organized unified written examination and oral audition.
Students receive a certificate of completion of the study requirements for each grade and for the Upper Secondary School leaving examination, the professional exam, the basic art exam and the final art exam, which is issued by the class teacher. Regardless of the type of school, the certificate of successful completion of the eighth grade provides that the pupil has completed basic education, which is required for the pupil to progress in majority education. Assessment is mostly based on the pupil’s continuous performance during the school year.
The certificate and the document on which the certificate is based on are authentic instruments. The production and distribution of the certificate and the form on which the certificate is based is subject to the authorization of the Minister responsible for education. The certificate shall be issued in Hungarian, or if the school education is conducted wholly or partly in the language of one of the national minorities or in another foreign language - in two languages: in Hungarian and in the language of the school.
The certificate must include the name, the OM ID, the address and the stamp of the school. The formal elements of the certificate shall be governed by law (Ministry of Human Capacities Decree 20/2012. (VIII. 31.) on the Operation of the Educational Institutions and the Use of Names of the Public Education Institutions. The certificate must also include: (a) its serial number, (b) the serial number of the certificate supplement, (c) the student's name, educational identification number, place and date of birth, mother's name at birth, (d) the student's registry sheet number, (e) the academic year and number of the grade completed, (f) the number of hours missed by the student, including the number of unjustified failures, (g) the assessment of the student's diligence and behaviour, except for elementary art schools, (h) the subjects studied by the student. (i) the necessary clause, (j) the decision of the board of educators, (k) the place and time of issue, the imprint of the school's round stamp, (l) the signature of the school head and the head teacher.
The school may not refuse the issuance of the certificate for any reason. The school procedure for handling certificate forms is prescribed by law (Decree 20/2012 of the Ministry of Human Capacities on the Operation of the Educational Institutions and the Use of Names of the Public Education Institutions).