March 3, 2024

If the plan set out by the Government is complied with, the students who are in their first year of high school this year will be the first to undergo part of the changes in selectivity ―which will be less rote, with the application of what they have learned as the axis― in June 2024; however, the universities ask the Ministries of Education and Universities to delay the remodeling to 2025. They have done so through a written assessment, to which this newspaper has accessed, which they have presented at the permanent University Council this Monday. In addition, the desire of the rectors is that the exams last 15 minutes less. The definitive EBAU, already with all the changes ―they are gradually incorporated so that the change is not traumatic for schoolchildren―, is expected to come into force in 2028.

In the assessment, the universities maintain that “it is not realistic to affirm that there is enough time to implement said model in 2024 and the student body will be seriously harmed if this course is enrolled in the first year of high school.” In 2028 the maturity test will be implemented, but until then the exams will continue to be organized by subject and each year more competency exercises will be included. It is expected that in 2024 each exam will incorporate one question of this type and in 2025, two.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Education affirms that it has no intention of delaying the dates, since “after dozens of meetings with the representatives of the universities, the autonomies and the evaluators of the EBAU, it was already agreed (in December 2022) to extend the change to 2028″. This Wednesday, in a sector of Education, again the communities governed by the PP again demanded to stop the reform calendar to implement a single selectivity, but the spokesman reports that they did not request a delay.

The draft of the new selectivity decree, which was released last February, provides that the tests last 105 minutes, not the 90 minutes of the initial idea of ​​the Ministry of Education. This, after listening to the experts, considers that more time is needed to reason with the new model, than when it comes to transferring what has been memorized. For example, one part of the exam is not based on a question, but on a photograph, a table, an infographic or a graph on which the candidate will make a series of reasons and draw conclusions. This duration of the exams worries the universities, which advocate that students have a maximum of an hour and a half. Currently, the tests last 90 minutes and between them there is a break of at least 30 minutes.

The universities list in their letter five reasons for not extending the tests to 105 minutes. The first cause is that, in their opinion, “the competency tests do not necessarily require an increase in time to be carried out” -their experience assessing skills, they say, proves this- and unnecessary fatigue is spared for the student body.

More days of tests

The second reason is that extending the schedule, assure the campuses – which host and design the tests – “will inevitably mean extending the days dedicated to the tests and, as a consequence, there will be a delay in the pre-registration, admission and enrollment procedures”. In his opinion, longer exams will also take a toll on the performance of high school graduates with special educational needs (SEN) ―with maturational delays, language development disorders or learning attention disorders―, “which means a setback in the inclusion policies developed in recent years by universities”. These applicants with educational needs have extra time to answer.

The universities even believe that with the extension of the schedule it will be necessary to increase the days of tests ―they are usually three days, except in communities with a co-official language― to allow rest time and that could “imply a return to the extraordinary phase in September”. Traditionally, the repechage exams were held after the summer, but little by little the communities changed the date to July ―the ordinary call is in June― to better organize access for new students. As a sum of all this, the rectors argue that “students will suffer, in general, greater stress and will prolong their uncertainty in the outcome of their admission process to the university.”

The draft of the decree also provides that if the student is not satisfied with the mark of a subject, he can request another correction and if the difference in score exceeds two points, there is a third and the latter is the qualification that prevails. Currently, there is this triple correction, but an average of the three marks is made, which the students denounce each call that harms them. The universities, however, want the average to be maintained: “The current procedure, implemented for years, not only offers students greater agility in administrative processes and shortens the time for students to know the final results of their admission , but it has also shown that it perfectly guarantees the rights of students”.

The Government’s intention is that the selectivity decree be approved before second-year high school students start the course in September, so that they know what tests they will face and that their teachers have exam models to practice.

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