Stricter exam requirements would lower pass rates substantially

20/11/2007 15:00

According to a recent recommendation of the Education Council of the Netherlands, pupils in the higher levels of secondary education (havo and vwo) should only pass their final school exams if they pass Dutch, English and maths. If this requirement had been implemented for the 2006 school exams, the pass rates would have been substantially lower than they were. 

Main consequences for non–western foreign pupils

More than seventy thousand pupils sat their final havo and vwo school exams in 2006.  Nine out of ten of them passed. Had the stricter requirements been in force for Dutch, English and maths, the pass rates would have been substantially lower. Fewer pupils with a non-western foreign background, in particular, would have passed. The pass rate for this group would have fallen from 78 to 52 percent for havo, and from 83 to 61 percent for vwo. The pass rates for native Dutch children would also have been considerably lower, with drops from 90 to 67 percent for havo and from 94 to 75 percent for vwo.

Pass rates for havo and vwo, 2006

Pass rates for havo and vwo, 2006

Marks for national exams lower than for school exams

For the main subjects, the final exam result is composed of a mark for the school component and a mark for the national paper. Pupils do less well for the national papers than for the school components. For pupils with a non-western foreign background, the differences between the average score for the school part and the national paper is larger than for pupils with a native Dutch or western foreign background. For vwo exam candidates these differences were 0.7 point (non-western) en 0.4 point (native Dutch) respectively.

Average marks for school component and national paper,  havo and vwo exams, 2005/’06

Average marks for school component and national paper,  havo and vwo exams, 2005/’06

Large difference for Dutch

The differences between the school and the national papers vary per subject. For Dutch the difference between the two components was fairly large, for both pupils with a non-western foreign background (0.7 point) and native Dutch pupils (0.5 point). For maths the difference was slightly smaller for pupils with a non-western foreign background (0.4 point), but it was four times as large as the difference for native Dutch pupils.

Difference between marks for school component and national exam for Dutch, English and maths, 2005/’06

Difference between marks for school component and national exam for Dutch, English and maths, 2005/’06

Dick Takkenberg and Rob Kapel