British Council Slovakia was asked by the Slovak authorities for help in creating a national school leaving examination for English.
Client, stakeholders, partners
- The Slovak Ministry of Education, National Institute for Education (SPU)
- The Cambridge University Exams Syndicate (UCLES)
- The Institute of English Language Education (IELE), University of Lancaster
- The Slovak Association of Teachers of English
British Council Slovakia was asked by the Slovak authorities for help in creating a national school leaving examination for English. They wanted a standardised, objective system that would correspond to European norms, to replace a system in which each school set its own tests.
The British Council responded positively, and a five-year project was launched, from 2000-2005. The British Council task was to help develop the objective, centrally developed part of the exam. All stakeholders welcomed this approach as a desirable step forward.
The British Council was able to bring in high level expertise and international experience from the UK; both the UCLES and IELE training inputs were greatly appreciated by participants and policy makers. In the new exam the tests were centrally set, administered and evaluated, following centrally defined criteria.
The new exam was piloted in 2004, and it finally went live in 2005.
The impact of the project has been far-reaching. The new exams produced a beneficial "washback" effect on the content and methodology of English language classes, with communicative competences reflecting real language use now being taught in secondary schools in Slovakia.
What the stakeholders say
My conclusion is that the new maturita is a success. The new maturita means that ..... the government increased the quality of education, we have in fact built a means whereby each school can benchmark its performance in comparison with other schools.
Mr Morong, Deputy Head of Department for General Education, Ministry of Education, Slovakia
The written test in English has been well prepared, well administered and the teachers have been prepared to teach to it. This has also had an impact on the learners and the universities can rely on the results that students achieve.
Eva Tandlichová , President, Slovak Association of Teachers of English