News Brief: July / August 2009
Austrian high school students will soon join those in 24 European countries in facing centralized final exams. Beginning at the end of the school year 2013/2014, Austria’s graduating seniors will all be sitting for their written school-leaving exam (Matura) at the exact same time with the exact same questions, under the close supervision of monitors commissioned to ensure fairness.
Up to now, teachers have written the exam questions themselves and were thus able to decide on the contents of their lessons. This new system of centralizing the Matura will shift the task of compiling the exam questions from the teachers to a panel of senior educators, making sure that all students in Austria are tested equally. The Ministry of Education wants to make this change to ensure that all students have achieved the same level of knowledge by graduation.
Elsewhere in Europe, only Switzerland has had a system like the current one in Austria. With this change, Austria joins France, Germany (except Rheinland-Pfalz) and 22 other counties. Only Spain and Sweden follow neither of these options, having no specific school-leaving exams, but rather issue certificates of the completion of a course of study.