The assessment system in all types of post-primary schools is based on the amended School Education Act of 7 September 1991 (ustawa z dnia 7 września 1991 r. o systemie oświaty).
Internal assessment of pupils' learning achievements involves assessing the level of knowledge and skills and the progress made in relation to the requirements based on the curricula. Internal assessment covers learning achievements and behaviour. It is formative assessment.
The internal assessment aims to:
- inform pupils about their learning achievements and behaviour, and their progress in this respect;
- support pupils in learning by providing feedback to them on where they have performed well and how they should learn further on;
- support pupils in the individual planning of their development;
- motivate pupils to make further progress in learning and behaviour;
- provide parents (legal guardians) and teachers with the information on pupils' progress or learning difficulties, behaviour and special talents;
- enable teachers to improve organisational approaches and methods used in their educational activities.
Internal assessment includes:
- defining educational requirements to obtain individual end-of-semester (mid-year) and end-of-year marks for compulsory and additional classes;
- setting criteria for the assessment of behaviour;
- conducting assessment on an on-going basis, and giving end-of-semester and end-of-year marks for compulsory and additional classes, and end-of-semester and end-of-year marks for behaviour according to the scale and in the forms approved in a given school;
- conducting so-called qualifying exams (for example, for pupils who did not attend classes in a given semester);
- setting end-of-semester or end-of-year qualifying marks for compulsory and additional classes and end-of-year marks for behaviour according to the scale defined in the regulation;
- defining conditions and procedures for pupils wishing to improve their expected end-of-semester and end-of-year marks for compulsory and additional classes and end-of-semester and end-of-year marks for behaviour;
- defining conditions and procedures for providing parents (legal guardians) with information on pupils' progress or learning difficulties.
Teachers assess pupils separately in each subject. Marks for subjects are given by teachers of individual subjects. The end-of-year assessment takes into account results of the assessment carried out during the year. Assessment is based on single marks, and end-of-semester and end-of-year marks.
The teacher uses the following marking scale to assess pupils’ learning achievements: 6 – excellent (celujący), 5 - very good (bardzo dobry), 4 – good (dobry), 3 – satisfactory (dostateczny), 2 – acceptable (dopuszczający), 1 – unsatisfactory (niedostateczny). When giving marks in physical education, teachers should take into account, in particular, the pupil’s efforts to fulfil the specific requirements of the subject. School marks and marking criteria should be made available to pupils and their parents.
Pupils also receive marks for their behaviour (conduct) according to the following scale: excellent (wzorowe), very good (bardzo dobre), good (dobre), acceptable (poprawne), unacceptable (nieodpowiednie), and inadmissible (naganne). In principle, the mark for behaviour has no influence on subject marks, the promotion to a higher grade or graduation. However, in specific cases, the school's teaching council may decide that the pupil cannot be promoted to the next grade or finish the school if he/she has been given an inadmissible mark for behaviour at the end of two consecutive school years.
Pupils may take a so-called qualifying examination if they or their parents consider that the end-of-semester or end-of-year mark given by the teacher is too low.
For information about the status of pupils who are Ukrainian nationals, see Chapter “Assessment in General Secondary Education”, section “Internal assessment”.
External assessment/Summative assessment
The maturity exam is conducted for pupils finishing pre-reform 3-year general and 4-year technical upper secondary schools. In the future, when the school system reform initiated on 1 September 2017 is fully implemented, the exam will be taken by pupils finishing 4-year general secondary schools and 5-year technical secondary schools (operating since 1 September 2019); and 2-year stage II sectoral vocational schools (operating since 1 September 2020) where pupils who have finished a 3-year stage I sectoral vocational school continue education.
The arrangements for the maturity exam for the types of schools listed above are the same as for general secondary schools; see the section ‘Assessment in general upper secondary education’ / External assessment.
Exams aim to assess the extent to which a pupil/learner has acquired the knowledge and skills required for a given qualification, as defined in the core curriculum for vocational education (training for specific occupations). The current name and arrangements for the conduct of vocational exams have emerged as a result of several amendments to the national legislation on education adopted since 2013. These include a very important amendment of 22 November 2018 to the Law on School Education (ustawa Prawo oświatowe) that changed the name of exams and, partly, the arrangements for conducting them. An exam confirming qualifications for an occupation (egzamin potwierdzający kwalifikacje w zawodzie) is still conducted for pupils who followed a vocational education programme when the previous core curriculum for vocational education, established by the Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 31 March 2017 (rozporządzenie Ministra Edukacji Narodowej z dnia 31 marca 2017 r.), was still in place. A new compulsory vocational examination (egzamin zawodowy) is conducted for pupils who follow the new curricula in sectoral vocational schools.
Currently, the arrangements for conducting a vocational exam, and an exam confirming qualifications for an occupation, are laid down in the School Education Act (ustawa o systemie oświaty) (Articles 44zzzb to 44zzzu) and the the Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 28 August 2019 on the detailed conditions and procedure for conducting a vocational examination and an examination confirming qualifications for an occupation (rozporządzenie Ministra Edukacji Narodowej z dnia 28 sierpnia 2019 r. w sprawie szczegółowych warunków i sposobu przeprowadzania egzaminu zawodowego oraz egzaminu potwierdzającego kwalifikacje w zawodzie), based on Article 44zzzv of the Act.
An exam confirming qualifications for an occupation is based on a set of intended learning outcomes identified for a given occupation (qualifications for an occupation). Thus, the number of exams for a given occupation depends on the number of qualifications identified for the occupation in the classification of occupations established by the relevant Regulation of the Minister of National Education (between 1 and 3 exams per occupation). The Central Examination Board (Centralna Komisja Egzaminacyjna) develops guidelines for each exam.
Each exam consists of two parts, a written part and a practical part:
- The written part takes between 45 and 90 minutes (the exact duration is defined separately for each occupation in the guidelines) and is carried out as a test, with exercises assessing knowledge and skills required for a qualification in a given occupation.
- The practical part involves performing an examination task and aims to assess practical skills needed for a qualification in a given occupation. It lasts between 120 and 240 minutes (the exact duration is defined separately for each occupation in the guidelines developed and published by the Central Examination Board).
On passing an exam for a given (single) qualification, pupils / adult learners receive a certificate conferring a qualification for a given occupation (świadectwo potwierdzające kwalifikacje w zawodzie), issued by the competent Regional Examination Board (Regionalna Komisja Egzaminacyjna). Once pupils / adult learners have obtained certificates for all the qualifications required to practise a given occupation and have completed education at the required level, they obtain a diploma conferring vocational qualifications for a given occupation (dyplom potwierdzający kwalifikacje w zawodzie).
Both the written part and the practical parts of an exam confirming qualifications can be conducted in a school, another educational or training institution or at the employer’s organisation.
Based on new arrangements which have been in place since 2020, a vocational exam is conducted for the occupations that are included in the new classification of occupations for sector-based vocational education (Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 13 March 2017 / Rozporządzenie Ministra Edukacji Narodowej z dnia 13 marca 2017 r. w sprawie klasyfikacji zawodów szkolnictwa zawodowego(last amended on 31 July 2019). A new core curriculum for these occupations is established by the Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 16 May 2019 (Rozporządzenie Ministra Edukacji Narodowej z dnia 16 maja 2019 r. w sprawie podstaw programowych kształcenia w zawodach szkolnictwa branżowego oraz dodatkowych umiejętności zawodowych w zakresie wybranych zawodów szkolnictwa branżowego).
The following are the main differences between the previous exam confirming qualifications for an occupation and the new vocational exam:
- mandatory status of the new exam (in principle, secondary school pupils will be required to take the exam);
- the written part of the new exam based exclusively on an electronic system which will draw exam tasks by lots, using a published algorithm;
- exam tasks published for the practical part of the new exam;
- technical assistants allowed to participate in the practical part of the new exam.
The legislation defines quite precisely the locations / venues where the new exam will be taken. The locations where the written part of the exam will be taken:
- for a pupil: the school which he / she attends;
- for a school graduate: the school which he / she has finished;
- for a person who has completed a vocational qualification course: the institution providing a given course or a location identified by the providing institution;
- for an adult who has completed a practical vocational training programme for adults (praktyczna nauka zawodu dorosłych) or an adult training programme for specific vocational qualifications or tasks (przyuczenie do pracy dorosłych), and a person taking a vocational exam as an external: a school, educational institution, continuing education or practical training centre, the employer’s organisation, or an institution providing a vocational qualification course, identified by the head of the Regional Examination Board.
Where this is justified, a pupil, school graduate or a learner who has completed a vocational qualification course can take the written part of the vocational exam in another venue identified by the head of the Regional Examination Board.
To pass the previous exam confirming qualifications for an occupation and the new vocational exam (Article 44zzzo, section 1 of the School Education Act, an exam taker should score:
- at least 50% of the total number of points available for the written part;
- at least 75% of the total number of points available for the practical part.
Pursuant to the provisions of the School Education Act, which came into force on 1 September 2019, a vocational exam will lead to a vocational qualification certificate (instead of the previously awarded certificate conferring qualifications for an occupation) covering one qualification. Once a pupil / learner has obtained vocational qualification certificates for all qualifications identified within a given occupation and has completed education at the required level (which corresponds to a pre-reform basic vocational school or an equivalent school; a stage I sectoral vocational school, stage II sectoral vocational school or secondary school), he / she will also receive a vocational diploma (instead of the previously awarded diploma conferring vocational qualifications).
Following the changes initiated by the school system reform, exams confirming qualifications for an occupation and new vocational exams are (or will be) taken by:
- pupils in stage I and stage II sectoral vocational schools and technical secondary schools, and pupils / learners in post-secondary schools;
- graduates from basic vocational schools, stage I and stage II sectoral vocational schools, technical (upper) secondary schools and post-secondary schools;
- persons who have completed a vocational qualification course;
- adults who have completed a practical vocational training programme for adults or an adult training programme for specific vocational qualifications or tasks (as referred to, respectively, in Articles 53c and 53d of the Act of 20 April 2004 on the Promotion of Employment and Labour Market Institutions (ustawa z dnia 20 kwietnia 2004 r. o promocji zatrudnienia I instytucjach rynku pracy) (Journal of Law of 2015, item 149, with subsequent amendments), if the latter covered the requirements specified in the core curriculum for vocational education;
- persons who meet the requirements for admission to an external exam confirming qualifications for an occupation, as laid down in regulations based on Article 10, section 5 of the School Education Act.
Progression of pupils/students
Pupils are promoted to a higher grade if they have received ‘acceptable’ (2) or higher marks for all compulsory subjects at the end of the school year. Pupils who have received one ‘unsatisfactory’ (1) mark can take an exam in the subject concerned. A pupil who has not passed such a ‘resit’ exam has to repeat the same year.
The school's teaching council may conditionally promote a pupil who has received mark 1 (unsatisfactory) in only one subject. A pupil can be conditionally promoted to the next grade only once during the entire education cycle in a given type of secondary school.
If pupils did not attend more than 50% of compulsory classes and, thus, there is no basis for assessment, they can take a so-called qualifying exam on an agreed date.
All public secondary schools, and non-public schools which comply with the requirements set for public schools, award standardised certificates (the layout of these documents and rules for filling them in are laid down in the relevant regulations).
Vocational secondary school graduates receive a school leaving certificate. Those who have finished the school ‘with distinction’ receive a school leaving certificate with distinction.
Pupils finishing a technical secondary school or a stage II sectoral vocational school who have passed the maturity exam are awarded a maturity certificate. The certificate includes the results of the written and oral parts of the exam. Those who have re-taken the exam and improved their results in one or more subjects, or have taken the exam in additional subjects, receive an annex to the certificate. The certificate and its annexes are issued by the Regional Examination Boards. The maturity certificate provides access to higher education.
Upon passing a vocational exam covering a given (single) qualification, a pupil in a technical secondary school, sectoral vocational school or post-secondary school receives a vocational qualificationcertificate (a certificate conferring a vocational qualification, before 1 September 2019), issued by the competent Regional Examination Board. Once a graduate has obtained certificates for all the qualifications required to practise a given occupation and has completed the required level of education, he / she is awarded a vocationaldiploma (a diploma conferring vocational qualifications, before 1 September 2019). The format of these documents evolves to reflect changes in the school system and the core curriculum for vocational education. Thus, three vocational examination and certification systems are currently in place on a transitional basis:
- based on the 2012 core curriculum: in particular, for pupils who have finished a 4-year technical secondary school, a basic vocational school or a post-secondary school, were enrolled between 1 September 2012 and 31 August 2017 and followed the 2012 core curriculum; this system will be phased out in the school year 2024/2025;
- based on the 2017 core curriculum: in particular, for pupils of pre-reform 4-year technical secondary schools, post-reform stage I sectoral vocational schools, and post-secondary schools who were enrolled in the school years 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 and follow the 2017 core curriculum; and for pupils of pre-reform technical secondary schools and new stage I sectoral vocational schools who followed the 2017 core curriculum; depending on the category of learners, this system will be phased out in the school years 2025/2026 – 2026/2027;
- based on the 2019 core curriculum: for learners who follow the core curriculum that has been in place since 1 September 2019.
As mentioned earlier, the changes introduced are not fundamental. They reflect primarily different detailed learning requirements, as well as new qualifications (occupations) designated, and the compulsory status of the latest version of the vocational exam (a pupil may not finish a secondary vocational school without taking the exam). Additionally, technical improvements are being introduced in the examination process.
At the holder's request, a diploma conferring vocational qualifications / vocational diploma can be issued together with a Europass Diploma Supplement, based on a description of the holder's qualifications or a description of the occupation as provided in the core curriculum for a given occupation. The document defines the range of competences of the diploma holder, makes it easier to understand the contents of the diploma, describes the skills and qualifications of the holder, and is closely linked to a given occupation (all diploma holders receive the same supplement in a given country). The document has the same structure as in all other EU countries. Diplomas and diploma supplements are issued by the Regional Examination Boards.