More students fail: they notice this in adult education 07:00 in the Netherlands After three corona years with relaxed exam rules, more students failed again this year. A growing number are still trying to obtain their diploma in adult education.

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Final exams
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  • Sophie Moerland

    editor Domestic

  • Sophie Moerland

    editor Domestic

Retake two or three exam subjects without having to retake the entire year. This route in secondary adult education, VAVO, seems more popular this year now that more students have failed.

A third of the MBOs that offer VAVO informed the MBO Council that they have seen an increase compared to last year. These are largely students who have failed and do not want to repeat the whole year.

The number of students who were able to fly the flag after the exams this year was lower than before the corona period. This year, 89 percent of the students graduated from regular secondary education. In 2019 and 2018, this was 92 percent in both years.

After three corona years with relaxations, students were faced with the regular final exam for the first time this year. During corona, students could cross off a course and there were additional resit opportunities. There were no final exams in 2020 and almost all students passed.

MBOs have seen these higher pass rates reflected in a decline in the number of VAVO students in recent years. Normally this fluctuates around 16,000. In 2020, the number of students dropped to 10,000. In the years that followed, those numbers were also lower than before corona.

Lack of motivation

At Firda, an MBO with schools in Friesland and Flevoland, they now have more registrations for VAVO than before corona. The educational institution starts this year with 475 students. There could have been more; Firda had to cancel students because there was no room for them. “We had counted on a higher influx, but we could not fathom that there were so many,” says team leader Willechien van Berkum.

The vast majority of the group failed and would like to resit some exam subjects instead of repeating the entire year. For many students, this involves four subjects, normally two or three. During the intake interviews, students indicated that education during corona times has caused motivation problems.

Professor of educational sciences Susan Branje recognizes the lack of intrinsic motivation among students. Before corona, it was already difficult for secondary schools to motivate their students. Due to distance education and the resulting backlogs, this proved even more difficult for many students.

The largest group of students at Firda come from HAVO. What is striking, according to Van Berkum, is that many HAVO students have failed in geography. Last year there were two havo geography classes, this year there are four. There are also large classes of economics and business economics. After the HAVO students, pre-vocational secondary education students form the largest group. There is a full biology class there for the first time.

VAVO Haaglanden of ROC Mondriaan in The Hague saw a strong increase in registrations just before the summer holidays. There are 850 in total. Just before the holidays, registration was closed because it was feared that we would not be able to receive all students. The educational institution has seen an increase of around 50 percent compared to last year, says education director Maarten Bonarius.

Extra pressure on teachers

It was difficult for the vocational institution to estimate how many students would actually start. Students only register when they are sure that they have failed. For some of them, this is after the results of the resits in July. The formation at the school had already been completed and additional teachers were not easy to find.

That puts extra pressure on the teachers, says Van Berkum. “I have very nice colleagues who are all willing to work extra. This is all going well. But at a certain point it stops. The teacher must be able to pay enough attention to the student and prepare lessons. That is important here” .

Van Berkum expects another peak in registrations next year. After that, she thinks the corona effect will decrease. Although she suspects that secondary adult education will remain popular.

In addition to the corona effect, ‘barrier-free flow’ also plays a role in the increase, the MBO Council believes. Since 2020, pre-vocational secondary education and general secondary education students no longer have to score a certain average in order to progress. “As a result, young people who are better suited to secondary vocational education opt for HAVO. They ultimately drop out without a diploma. They still obtain this in adult education.”

  • Parents and students are increasingly concerned about final exams not being relaxed
  • Taking your exam behind: ‘I got a 3.6 for math’
  • Final exams started during corona time: crossing out an entire subject and more resits
  • Central final exams for secondary school students are cancelled
  • Domestic

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