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Grade-12 test experience getting ‘better’: ministry

An official at a Takeo high school holds a student’s sock to reveal a calculator yesterday. Photo supplied
An official at a Takeo high school holds a student’s sock to reveal a calculator yesterday. Photo supplied

Grade-12 test experience getting ‘better’: ministry

While the second and final day of the national Grade 12 exit exams wasn’t entirely free of would-be cheaters, the high-stakes testing was the smoothest yet since the introduction of tough new standards in 2014, officials said.

“The candidates understood and obeyed the exam’s regulations,” said Ministry of Education spokesman Ros Salin, adding it had gone “better” than the previous two years.

The number of students who experienced health problems, such as dizziness and fainting, ticked up to 26 from just nine the day before, though all but one who fell ill were able to finish the exam.

Absences jumped as well. Of the 93,752 students registered to take the exam, 1,361 failed to show yesterday, up from 1,282 on day one. Nearly 1,000 of the students who failed to show were retaking the exam after failing in previous attempts, Salin said.

Despite high awareness of the anti-cheating measures in place, monitors across the country still managed to confiscate cheat-sheets, electronic devices, calculators and even a pair of sandals with written notes on the bottom.

But that came as a surprise to a group of students interviewed during their lunch break, who said cheating at their testing centre would have been nigh impossible.

“There was no chance to cheat, because they checked and collected all the cheat-sheets, and in the exam room, if you moved, they [the monitors] would come,” said Nou Leakhena, 19.

Nou Sreypau, meanwhile, walked out of the high-stakes test – passage of which is necessary to attend state university – crying yesterday.

“The math [portion] was very difficult,” the 18-year-old said in tears outside the Chaktomuk Primary School exam centre. “I couldn’t do it. I’m hopeless to pass. I’m scared.”

This is the third year the Anti-Corruption Unit has been involved in monitoring the exam, which had seen rampant corruption and cheating in years prior to the 2014 overhaul.

That first year, passage rates plummeted from 87 per cent to just over 25 per cent.

Test results will be announced on the afternoon of September 13 at examination centres in Phnom Penh and Kandal, and on September 14 at examination centres in other provinces, according to the ministry.

San Chey, executive director of Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said it was good that there were no major irregularities during this year’s exam, but said his organisation would like for the ministry to continue the strict monitoring during the grading process as well.

“To ensure that the scoring is fair,” he said.

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