According to the Bylaw on Student Assessment in Primary Education (2019), assessment of student’s development is defined as a continuous process which should have a positive impact on student’s motivation and learning approach. Each student should be assessed for compulsory subjects, compulsory options and other activities in which he/she participates. Assessment is based on several principles: objectivity, relevance, the necessity of different assessment methods and techniques, fairness, timeliness, non-discrimination and respect for individual differences, age, capacities, needs, previous achievements and conditions.
Student’s learning and development can be assessed in the formative and summative way.
Formative and summative assessment
Formative assessment is feedback about the current achievement level and specific student’s engagements during the course or activity. Main objectives of formative assessment are description of current student’s level of development of competences, providing individualized approach, providing specific instruction for further learning and development etc.
Summative assessment is the evaluation of achievement at the end of the part of the program or semester. During the first grade of primary school, complete assessment is descriptive (at the end of the program and semester as well).
In general, grade can be descriptive and numeric.
Grade is defined as reliable and objective indicator of students’ knowledge (or skills, performance, practical work and engagement in case it is practical, sport or art activity). It is also an indicator of quality and efficacy of teacher’s work. Grade should be public and followed by the explanation, which means that it has recommendation for student’s further learning and development. The numeric grade is done by using a five-point scale of both qualitative and quantitative examination marks: 5 (excellent), 4 (very good), 3 (good), 2 (satisfactory), and 1 (unsatisfactory).
During one semester, each student must have at least four marks for each subject, which are used at the end of the semester to form the final grade. Assessment is done by using three forms: oral, written and practical work. At least one mark should be given by oral assessment during one semester.
According to the bylaw on student assessment, in the beginning of every school year, the previous students’ achievement should be estimated. This assessment is called Initial assessment of students and it can be done within one specific topic, module or subject. The result of initial assessment is not the part of summative assessment process, but it is relevant for teacher’s planning and teaching in general.
All forms of assessment and also assessment criteria are adaptable for students with disabilities, according to their Individual Education Plans (IEP). For students who are involved in the educational program with IEP-1, assessment should be based on adapting assessment techniques and process. For students who are involved in the educational program with IEP-2, assessment should be based on adapting outcomes and standards of achievement and adapting assessment techniques and process as well. The whole set of adaptation is defined as a part of a personalized learning plan.
The final grade is proposed by the teacher and approved by the school Teachers’ Council. Grade point average (GPA) is computed at the end of the first semester as an average of all final grades in that semester, and at the end of the school year based on all grades during that year. There are 4 GPA categories: excellent (GPA>4.50), very good (3.50<GPA<4.49), good (2.50<GPA<3.49), and satisfactory (GPA<2.49). GPA cannot be computed if any of the final grades is 1 (explained in the Progression of Pupils).
All grades, including final grades, GPAs and any other notes on pupils’ assessment and progression, are tracked through a school record. At the end of each semester and school year, pupils receive their own record cards with the same information.
Assessment of students’ behavior is done at least twice per semester (during the semester and in the end of semester). It should be descriptive from 1st to 5th grade and it does not influence the GPA.
Assessment of students’ behavior from 6th to 8th grade should be descriptive during the semester and numeric in the end of the semester and it does influence the GPA.
Summative assessment is also used at the end of the 8th grade, when pupils are required to take the final exam (Завршни испит or Мала матура) in order to complete basic education. The final exam assesses competencies acquired at primary school and comprises three tests: native language, mathematics and a combined test (combines natural and social sciences).
Final exam results are, along with the pupil’s GPA, required for secondary school enrolment, according to the Law on Secondary Education.
Another aim of the final exam is to assess the quality of schools’ and teachers’ work, as well as the current status and progress of the education system. Each school receives a report about the final exam results, which may be used for the analysis of correspondence between these results and pupils’ grades, comparison with other schools, and external evaluation.
Pupils wishing to enrol in special general secondary schools (e.g. mathematical or philological grammar schools) or art schools (e.g. music or ballet schools) are required to take a school-specific additional test of relevant knowledge and competences.
The realisation of standards of pupils’ achievement is also examined through the national examination on a sample of schools and pupils in different grades. This examination affects neither pupils’ grades nor secondary school enrolment; however, pupils are required to participate.
All forms of assessment and also assessment criteria are adaptable for pupils with disabilities, according to their Individual Education Plans.
Progression of Pupils
Pupils whose final grades at the end of a school year are all at least satisfactory (2) can proceed to the next grade and this is the most common scenario. However, a pupil can, under certain circumstances, repeat a grade. If pupils from 4th to 7th grade have up to two unsatisfactory (1) final grades at the end of a school year, they are required to take the make-up exam (поправни испит) in these subjects. If they do not pass this exam, they have to repeat the grade. In case they have more than two unsatisfactory final grades at the end of a school year, they automatically have to repeat the grade. Eighth-grade pupils cannot repeat the grade; in case of unsatisfactory final grades, they continue taking make-up exams until they pass them. Pupils from 1st to 3rd grade do not have to repeat a grade even if they have unsatisfactory grades unless their parents decide so.
Pupils who are not graded at the end of a semester (e.g. due to absence during a semester) are obliged to take the grade exam (разредни испит) in the particular subjects. Pupils who fail these exams undergo the same abovementioned procedure. The grade exam is also intended for home-teaching and distance learning pupils.
Pupils whose capacities and achievements are high above average can, if approved by the School Council and principal, switch to accelerated education, which allows them to complete two grades in one school year. Their assessment is done through grade exams, with the same rules that have already been described.
Progression of pupils with disabilities is determined by their Individual Education Plans.
Besides record cards with final grades, pupils receive certificates on grade completion at the end of each grade of cycle 2. At the end of 8th grade, pupils receive the Basic School Certificate (сведочанство) as a proof of primary school completion.
Pupils whose GPA in all grades during the primary school is 5.00/5.00 receive a special certificate, Vukova diploma (Вукова диплома), for outstanding school achievement. Based on criteria determined by the school, one pupil in each generation is chosen to be the best pupil and is usually awarded a book and/or a certificate issued by the school.