Scrapping year 8 tests could increase inequality, CPB warns


The cancellation of year 8 tests because of coronavirus has put 14,000 primary school children at risk of missing out on a higher level of education, the economic planning agency CPB said in a report on Monday.

Children have now been allocated a secondary school stream purely on the basis of teachers’ assessments. Dutch pupils are streamed at the age of 12 into pre-college, pre-university and vocational training.

The year 8 test is regarded as a second chance for pupils whose initial assessment does not entitle them to enter a HAVO or VWO stream. This is particularly the case for children with a migrant background or whose parents are on low incomes, the CPB said.

In other years, 8% of pupils on average do better than expected in the test and are allocated a higher stream. Based on this figure, some 14,000 pupils are now left without recourse, which the CPB says could increase inequality.

Education minister Arie Slob has called for secondary schools to be ‘extra vigilant’ in the next school year as to whether the pupils are learning at an appropriate level. Parents and primary schools can also indicate if they expected a different stream for the children.

The effects of these measures will take time, the CPB said, and until then schools must monitor the progress of their youngest pupils carefully.

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