The Education Ministry has introduced a new scoring system for the annual national school exams in a bid to address criticism over how the final score is determined.
Until now, students had been required to achieve a score of at least 5.5 out of 10 in the exam to graduate high school.
However, teachers, parents and education experts have long criticized the requirement, arguing that the final score only reflects students’ exam results and not their achievements at school over the past year.
The critics also say the system is an unfair gauge of students’ ability because it favors students from schools in more developed regions, where education standards are usually better than in less-developed areas.
Beginning this year, the final score will now be a combination of the national exam results and the final school test results, according to Education Minister Muhammad Nuh.
The final school test result will be determined from the average score of year-end tests and subject scores from the student’s first to fifth semesters in senior high school.
“The national exam results will account for 60 percent of the final score, while the final school tests will make up 40 percent,” Nuh said on Thursday.
“With this new system, we hope fewer people will oppose the national examinations.”
Under the new method, a student scoring 5 out of 10 in the national exams and 7 out of 10 in the final school test would achieve a pass with an overall score of 5.8.
Nuh said the national exams would account for the biggest proportion of the final score in order to ensure students did not pass solely on their final school test results, which he said could be doctored by teachers.
“Teachers awarding high scores just to get the students to pass is never a good thing because we’re trying to improve our education system,” he said.
“Handing out high scores to undeserving and less intelligent students would be very unfair to the bright ones.”
“There will also be no more remedial exams if they fail the national exams,” he said.
“Instead, they’ll have to take the Kejar Paket [general equivalency] test.”
Arief Rachman, an education expert and head of the Indonesian National Commission for Unesco, welcomed the new scoring system as a positive step toward improving the quality of education in the country.
“This is good because we’re competing with other countries whose educational system are based on skills and competition,” Arief told the Jakarta Globe on Monday.
“We should laud the government for not disregarding the school score in this new system. However, whether the method is successful and effective remains to be seen, as we still have to see how it goes this May after the examinations.”
Arief also said the subjects that students were tested on in the national exams did not accurately reflect the national education philosophy, which emphasizes the need for students of high virtue and character.
“If we test students in math rather than civics and religious education, we’re not going to create students along those lines,” he said.
“The question is what kind of person do we create if we test students in subjects that emphasize logic above all else?”
Senior high students taking the national exams will be tested in six subjects, including math, the Indonesian language and English.
Those taking the science stream will also have to take chemistry, biology and physics tests, while those taking the social stream will have to sit the sociology, geography and economics tests.