In recent years, the Czech Ombudsman repeatedly warned about shortcomings in the procedure of the Ministry of Education (hereinafter “the Ministry”) in reviewing the results of school-leaving examinations (the “maturita” exam used in numerous types of secondary schools). Based on the Ombudsman’s comments, the Ministry has amended the so-called “maturita decree” and modified certain procedures and forms so that the students would now have better information on where and how to lodge a complaint. The students will also receive a more detailed reasoning in cases where the Ministry dismisses their application for a review.
In August 2018, the Ombudsman carried out another survey in which 350 randomly selected decisions of the Ministry concerning review of “maturita” examinations were analysed. Even though this survey showed that clearly formulaic responses only appeared in 13% of all cases, some degree of formulaicity appeared in 40% of answers. These results show that the practices of the Ministry is far from perfect.
The Ministry confirmed that it had supplemented forms for application for a review of the “maturita” examination based on the Ombudsman’s request. The students will thus receive an instruction to indicate the specific question or part of a test they wish to be reviewed. If a student’s objections are dismissed, the Ministry will provide a detailed explanation and reasoning. As from the spring period of 2019, the Ministry has also promised to provide more detailed reasoning for decisions concerning math problems.
Regarding complaints against unsatisfactory classroom conditions during the test that could have negatively impacted students’ performance, the Ministry modified the procedure to allow students to include objections in an official record after the test concludes. The supervisors of classroom tests advise the students of their right to include their objections concerning the course of the examination in an official record. As from the spring exam period of 2019, they will also advise the students of the consequences of them not exercising this right (i.e. that it will weaken their position if they make their objections as to the conditions of the test known only during review proceedings later on).
Despite number of improvements of the review procedure have been made, some problems remain unsolved (such as the lack of possibility to inspect all the materials on which the decision is based). Some disputed issues concerning reviews of the “maturita” examination would have to be authoritatively decided by a court, should the students lodge an action.
Source: Public Defender of Human Rights, Czech Republic.