The proportion of pupils in secondary education who opt for higher general secondary education (havo) or pre-university education (vwo) is growing. The shift from preparatory secondary vocational education (vmbo) to higher types of secondary education is not just positive. In the period 2005/’06-2009/’10, the pass rates for havo and vwo pupils dropped by 4 percentage points.
Shift from vmbo to havo and vwo
In the school year 2009/’10, nearly 85 thousand pupils in secondary education took the havo or vwo exam, an increase by 10 thousand relative to 2005/’06. The number of exam candidates for the lower vmbo tracks, i.e. the basic vocational track and the advanced vocational track, on the other hand, declined by 7 thousand.
Secondary education exam candidates
Poorer results for havo and vwo pupils
In 2009/’10, vmbo exam pupils performed best. In the basic vocational and advanced vocational track, 95 percent of candidates passed the final exam and in the theoretical and combined vmbo track the pass rate was 94 percent. The havo and vwo pass rates were 85 and 89 percent respectively. The pass rates in these higher types of secondary education were below the 2005/’06 level.
Secondary education exam pass rates
Pupils with non-western background less successful
In the period 2005/’06-2009/’10, the final exam results achieved by vwo pupils with a non-western background who had opted for a social subject cluster deteriorated. The pass rate in this category for 2005/’06 was already relatively low, but in 2009/’10 only three quarters passed the final exam, i.e. 9 percentage points down on four years ago. With a pass rate of 74 percent, the final exam results for havo pupils with a non-western background who had opted for a nature or social cluster were even poorer.
Pupils with a non-western background are not the only ones to perform poorly. In the much larger group of native Dutch havo and vwo pupils, the proportion of successful candidates also marginally declined in 2009/’10.
Exam pass rates havo and vwo pupils by ethnic background and cluster option
Since school year 2011/’12, stricter exam requirements prevail. As a result, havo, vwo and vmbo pass rates may be below the level of the preceding years.
Theo van Miltenburg