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A Math Test Shielded Against Fraud

A Math Test Shielded Against Fraud / 14ymedio, Zunilda Mata
Posted on April 30, 2015

14ymedio, Zunida Mata, Havana 28 april 2015 — “This is more protected
than Plaza of the revolution,” a teenager joked this Monday just before
sitting down for the math test for college admission. Yesterday, dozens
of schools across the country held the difficult test to enter higher
education. The rigor of the evaluation content has increased this year,
after a string of cases of fraud that marred last year’s test.

The National Committee of Admission and Job Placement of the Ministry of
Higher Education made a prior call for “discipline, punctuality and
rigor” in order to carry out the process of University admission. This
time, control measures have also been reinforced to deliver and protect
the sheets containing the admission exams. “The chain of custody has
been guaranteed,” a teacher boasted this Monday outside Old Havana High
School as she answered the questions of curious parents who gathered at
the site in the early hours of the morning.

Rigor has not only been expressed in greater control measures for the
distribution of the exams but also in the difficulty of the tests. “They
made it a difficult test,” complained a young man at the exit; for him
the “math problems were complicated and the equation questions had some
kind of trick.” In conversation with 14ymedio, several students
expressed their suspicions that the complexity of the examination was
intended to serve as a “warning” so that last year’s irregularities
wouldn’t happen again.

The Municipal People’s Court of Marianao imposed, last November, heavy
penalties for those responsible for leaking tests in the process of
higher education admission for the academic year 2014-2015 in the
province of Havana. A similar event happened at the Faculty of Medicine
of Santiago de Cuba, where second year Anatomy and Statistics tests were
leaked along with the fourth year English test and the well-known state
test that all sixth year students must cope with.

Teachers and methodologists involved in the scandal were sentenced to
from 18 months up to 8 years in prison. During the police investigation,
it came out that several of these teachers trained groups of students,
without legal authorization, based on the leaked test questions. The
figure of the tutor – a teacher privately contracted by families,
outside of the schools – has become famous in Cuba to prop up the
deterioration of teaching quality in the schools themselves.

The figure of the tutor – a teacher privately contracted by families,
outside of the schools – has become famous in Cuba to prop up the
deterioration of teaching quality in the schools themselves.

The events led to a new math test held on May 6, 2014, to the
modification of the Spanish and history tests and to the “extraordinary
repeat test for these three subjects,” as Granma newspaper explained at
that time. Repeating the state test and the indefinite invalidation of
the diplomas of the medical students involved in the leaking also
occurred in Santiago de Cuba.

In order to avoid the repetition of such incidents in yesterday’s math
exam, examination sheets were distributed to officials and managers
during the weekend in sealed envelopes, requiring a signature to open
them. “This year we have managed to avoid that teachers have prior
access to questions; only school principals and heads of Departments are
allowed to handle the exams”, assured a methodologist from the Playa
municipality.

The official press echoed the words of René Sánchez, President of the
National Committee on Admission and Work Placement of the Ministry of
Higher Education, for whom the current round of testing is characterized
by “transparency” and “purity.” As the official explained, we should now
add that there is no access “to the fraudulent” in the slogan “The
University is for Revolutionaries.”

This year, the majority of university openings correspond to medical,
pedagogical, technical and agricultural majors. High School graduates
compete for a total of 57,375 spaces in daytime course options and the
so-called “encounter courses” – that is courses where students attend
classes. Although there are more places than students for the
examinations, much of what is offered is not of interest to young
people. The pedagogical and agricultural careers are considered among
the worst and students foresee them as a road to sacrifice with low
wages and little social recognition.

In a few days, once the results of the tests are published, students may
request a requalification process of a review of their scores.

The Spanish examination for University admission will be held on 30
April, and on May 4 that of Cuban history. In the meantime, the repeats
for all these tests will take place between June 18 to 24.

Translated by Alberto Uria

Source: A Math Test Shielded Against Fraud / 14ymedio, Zunilda Mata |
Translating Cuba –
http://translatingcuba.com/a-math-test-sheileded-against-fraud-14ymedio-zunilda-mata/

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