Ministry of Education and Science Newsletter, August '16
Vadym Karandiy, Director of Ukrainian Center for Educational Quality Assessment

In 2016 external independent testing was carried out for the tenth time. For the ninth year in a row, its results are binding and determining for admission to Ukrainian higher educational institutions. Carried out after final exams, independent evaluation is used to establish ratings for secondary schools and evaluate the effectiveness of state regional policy. Technology for external independent evaluation is now also used for admission to certain Masters' degrees.
However 2016 has also been one of the most difficult of all the years the system of standardized testing has been operating. Criminal investigations opened by law enforcement authorities in the summer of 2015, called into question the ability of the Ukrainian Center for Educational Quality Assessment to administer tests over the short term, resulting in significant challenges. Most processes in the center were automated, which meant that the removal of hardware and software including databases, and the collection of test questions not only put the system out of balance but resulted in its ineffectiveness and inability to perform its usual tasks.   

To save the system of external independent testing, the decision was made to give up certain progressive practices and plans which had been previously established. In particular, we had to abandon the idea of carrying out the state final attestation by means of external independent testing for graduates graduates of higher education institutions of I-II levels of accreditation, mandatory state final attestation in the form of external independent testing in a foreign language, the introduction of an English listening test (absence of approved technology for external independent testing in foreign languages) and the use two-level tests.

Today it is safe to assert that external independent testing was successfully carried out in 2016. Testing was made possible thanks to mutual understanding and harmonious cooperation between the Ukrainian Center for Educational Quality Assurance, regional centers, the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, the Committee on Science and Education of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and with the support of long-term partners - the US Agency for International Development and the USETI Alliance.

Based on the results of this year's external independent testing, we can see the key achievements and newly introduced innovations. The Ukrainian Center for Educational Quality Assessment finally moved to a new model of rating evaluation of EIT participants using a "pass/fail" threshold criterion, developed and published a new methodology for the conversion of test scores to a rating on a scale of 100-200 which allows the automated determination of test results for all participants, data on the results of the state final attestation is transferred to secondary schools remotely via a dedicated online server and the authenticity of results is confirmed by an electronic signature, a study has been conducted on the impact of the socio-economic environment on the learning outcomes of students, a new format for tests in foreign languages has been approved and external independent testing technology has been trialled in the admissions process to the "Masters' of Laws" postgraduate qualification.

Perhaps the greatest progress this year is the disclosure to the public of data about the test results for all participants in 2016. The educational community, academia and the public have thus received valuable information for analysis, research and planning of new educational policy based on actual data. At the same time, such a step is a continuation of the practice of openness of external independent testing which is essential to preserve public confidence.

From the beginning of the new academic year, we are confident in UCEQA's plans for 2017. In particular, next year the state final attestation for high school graduates will be carried out by means of external independent testing. Future high-school graduates must sit external tests for Ukrainian language and literature (Ukrainian language), mathematics or history of Ukraine (for the period from the 20th to the beginning of the 21st century) and another subject chosen by the test participant.

Taking into account suggestions by educators on timing at the end of the academic year, external independent testing for 2017 will begin on 23 May and be completed by 15 July. The main session of external independent testing will last from 23 May to 16 June. Testing for Ukrainian language and literature will be held on 23 May, Spanish, German and French - 25 May, English - 29 May, Mathematics - 31 May, History of Ukraine - 2 June, Russian - 6 June, Biology - 8 June, Geography - 12 June, Physics - 14 June, Chemistry - 16 June.

Results of the main session of external independent testing for all subjects will be made available to EIT participants by 23 June 2017 ahead of the start of the admissions campaign.

Also next year, the Ukrainian Center for Educational Quality Assessment will administer the pilot phase of PISA. In 2018 Ukraine will for the first time participate in the Programme for International Student Assessment known as PISA, an initiative of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and its partners including more than 80 participating countries. This unique project allows the evaluation of pupils' competence in reading, mathematics and natural sciences and is not directly related to the knowledge and materials of school curricula. In addition PISA conducts a survey of students participating in the program to trace the connection between their test performance and their conditions of everyday life and education.

External independent testing has been confirmed as an integral part of the Ukrainian educational system. In the context of reforming the system of school education, external independent testing has the potential to become not only an effective tool for admission to higher education institutions, but also to monitor the quality of other changes which will be introduced in the near future.

What is the concept of the new Ukrainian school? Why is it necessary?
What are the main components which make up the "Formula for New Ukrainian schools"?
Where can I find the concept of the project and how to participate in the discussion?
The Concept of New Ukrainian School uses simple language to explain the rationale for change, which is laid out in the draft framework law "On education", which has been submitted to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and is awaiting its first reading. The purpose of this document is to interest a wider audience in the idea of education reform and involve parents, teachers, organizations and local authorities in a broad public dialogue on the issue.    

A Concept of  New Ukrainian School, supported by all interested parties, is needed to form a clear idea about the purpose of school reform, its end result and form a plan of action. Thus, the presented concept contains clear programmatic aspects (such as the transition to 12-year schooling, structural separation of 12-year schooling to 3 levels) as well as values and a philosophical understanding of the focus of the educational process at school being universal values which include: dignity, honesty, fairness, respect for life, respect for ourselves and others, respect for human rights, freedom, democracy, cultural diversity, patriotism, respect for the native language, concern for the environment, solidarity and responsibility.
As a result, the formula presented in the concept of New Ukrainian School contains 8 basic components:
  1. New educational content based on the development of competencies needed for successful self-realization in society.
  2. Pedagogy based on a partnership between students, teachers and parents.
  3. Motivated teachers who have creative freedom and undertake  professional development.
  4. Focusing on the needs of pupils in the learning process according to a child-centred approach.
  5. A holistic education process that shapes values.
  6. A new school structure that allows effective acquisition of new educational content and life competencies.
  7. Decentralization and good governance providing schools with real autonomy.
  8. Equitable distribution of public funds to ensure equal access to quality education for all children, regardless of their place of residence, family financial status and so on.
The Ministry of Education and Science stresses that the submitted document is open to debate - everyone can contribute to social dialogue and submit their proposals via email to .The subject line should indicate "Concept discussion" and in the letter must state the name of the section in question as well as the paragraph and page number for proposed changes.

The text of the concept of the New Ukrainian School can be found under the link below.

Read the draft of the "New Ukrainian School" project for public discussion
News section on the MES website
News section on the MES website

This year, curriculum for primary school classes has been reviewed and updated. New curricula have seen the removal of excessive regulation of the learning process and the removal of concepts and subject matter too complex for students in grades 1-4, obsolete words and outdated musical works. Parallel to this, the marking standards for primary school students were also updated.
From now on, the evaluation process should become more democratic and humane towards the pupils as follows:

Assessment is defined as confidential information by which the teacher may only inform pupils and their parents or guardians directly;

Requirements for assessment of pupils of varying ages in grades 1, 2, 3 and 4 have now been individualised for each age (grade). Earlier guidelines were shared for pupils from grades 1-4. For the full list of new requirements follow the links below;   

Requirements for literacy assessment standards were relaxed, clearly spelling out the number of major and minor errors permitted for the issuance of a given mark.
Calligraphy will not be assessed and will not be subject to a mark.

Corrections made by pupils are permitted and will not be taken into account during marking.

Requirements for spacing written work have been lifted. Work must be presented neatly, but specific indentation and the number of empty lines should not influence assessment;
"Reading Techniques" which measures reading speed from grade 2 onward in terms of the number of words per minute will be abolished. This will be replaced with a diagnostic test which assesses pupils' reading comprehension.

The total number of different types of tests (reading, copying, dictation, re-formulating, quizzes, etc.) will be reduced for grade 2 (9 instead of 13), for grade 3 (10 instead of 15) and for grade 4 (11 instead of 17).
First graders may write in pencil "to reduce psychological stress" and in order to avoid the fear of making a mistake. Time and steps for transition to pens is set by teachers themselves individually for each child.
Marks should not be given in first grade. In second grade marks may also not be given depending on the respective decision of the school board.
Throughout primary school the following subjects will not be marked according to a points scale: "Shop Class", "Civics", "Computer Studies", "Music", "Painting", "Art", "Health Studies" and "Sport".
In addition, updated guidelines for primary school curricula indicate that homework should not be set for the weekend, public holidays and on vacations. The volume of homework should be limited: in grade 2 to no more than a child can do on their own in 45 minutes, in grade 3 - 1 hour 10 minutes, in grade 4 - 1 hour 30 minutes. In first grade homework should not be given at all.

The teaching guidelines stress that pupils should not be burdened with tasks contained in additional textbooks, exercise books and other printed materials.

News section on the MES website
Interview with the Minister of Education and Science by online news service ""

General requirements for controlling and evaluating educational achievements by primary school pupils
Key points of the general requirements for evaluating educational achievements of students in grades 1-4
Explanatory note by MES "How record a diary and report on assessment?"
Updated curriculum:
Description of key changes in the updated curriculum for primary school
MES Ukraine circular no. 1/9-437 dated 17/08/2016 "On methodological guidelines for teaching subjects in schools"


Due to the fact that printing textbooks for grade 9 is planned for next year and in view of updating the content of subjects, the general school curriculum for grade 9 has been updated. Changes to the curriculum were approved by the board of the Ministry of Education and Science as of 8 August 2016.
Changes were made to the curriculum for 25 subjects. The greatest changes were to history and geography curricula. Ukraine has chosen the European path of development, so events from the history of Ukraine should be studied in a European context and described from a Ukrainian-centred perspective.

Geography will be taught in grade 9 covering both social and economic aspects. In the study of the subject, Ukraine will be considered in the context of the global economy and global processes.

The updated curriculum for grade 9 is available on the website of the Ministry of Education and Science.

Changes have also been made to the grade 10 and 11 curricula, mostly  relating to the study of Ukrainian language in schools and the teaching of national minority languages.
News section on the MES website
Review the content of the updated grade 9 curriculum here

What were the main innovations of the 2016 admissions campaign? To what extent has the automatic distribution of publicly funded places proven itself?

How will the terms of admission for 2017 be established and what changes can be expected? How many high school graduates were admitted to Ukrainian higher education institutions in 2016 overall?
The main innovation of this year's admissions campaign was establishing a new principle for the distribution of publicly funded places which can be briefly described as a "places follow high school graduates." Universities, which received applications from high school graduates with the best marks, automatically receive a greater number of publicly funded places as well as well as admitting the best and highly motivated students. In addition, this has allowed avoiding the subjective human factor in the allocation of publicly funded places between universities, making the process automated and transparent.     

The new distribution system for publicly financed places has also allowed the filling of all publicly financed places in technical and natural science disciplines. By comparison, last year the number of unfilled seats was about 3000.
Problems which were not resolved during the admissions campaign and on which work has begun to resolve them during preparation for the next admissions campaign relate to the distribution of publicly funded places within academic disciplines (between educational programs) and the automatic distribution of places for privileged categories (combatants, children of soldiers killed in ATO).

Today in Ukraine there are over 2500 thousand dead soldiers, about 250,000 current servicemen and veterans ( "ATOshnyky") and about 1.3 million internally displaced persons (this year the state has supported them for admission to higher education through a special law and the activities of "Donbass - Ukraine" and "Crimea - Ukraine" educational centers. In future there are plans to define conditions of admission to publicly funded places for combat veterans and the children of fallen armed services personnel in a more detailed manner.
The most acute problem during the 2016 admissions campaign was a server malfunction in the first days after the official start of the document submission process (conducted exclusively in electronic form for most high school graduates). The Ministry has drawn the appropriate conclusions and in future plans to resolve these technical problems through:
  • Enabling students to upload documents (certificate of complete secondary education, annexes) to their personal document locker before the official start of the admissions campaign
  • Increasing the number of backup servers.
Details of plans for the 2017 admissions campaign will be available in the document "Terms of Admission 2017", which will soon be presented for public discussion.
About the results of the opening campaign in 2016 in numbers as of 25 August 2016:
  • 252,210 people were admitted to publicly funded places in all forms of education;
  • 266,013 people were enrolled in privately funded places for all forms of learning;
  • 91 people from Crimea were enrolled in studies (85 in publicly funded places and 6 in private places);
  • 302 people from the territory of Donetsk und Luhansk regions not under Ukrainian were enrolled (252 in publicly funded places, 16 in privately funded places and 34 in publicly funded places for distance learning).
During the 2016 admissions campaign, a trial was successfully completed to conduct entrance exams to Masters of Laws programs using external independent testing technology (EIT). The Ministry of Education and Science implemented the pilot project in partnership with the USAID "Fair Justice" Project and the OSCE Project Coordinator in Ukraine.
In the pilot project included 9 Ukrainian universities which offer Master's of Laws programs.

External independent testing has already shown its effectiveness in overcoming corruption with regard to admission to higher education institutions and is considered one of the most successful educational reforms. However EIT only applies to entry examinations by high school graduates to Bachelor's degree programs. Admission to Master's degrees remains subject to the "traditional" type of entrance examinations which are subject to corruption risks.    

Admission to the Masters' of Laws program is ideal for such a pilot project, because the academic discipline of "law" is suited to a uniform examination based on the study of a single legal system. This is important to ensure that the pilot project does not contradict the principle of university autonomy.

A battery of test questions for the entrance examinations were developed by lecturers at each of the participating higher education institutions. The final version of the test was compiled by a person not connected with the activity of any of the participating universities. The test consisted of 3 components: testing legal knowledge, general basic legal competencies and testing English language skills. If individual applicants had studied another foreign language during the course of their Bachelor's degree, they were entitled to complete the first two components of the EIT examination separately while sitting an examination in another foreign language at their home university.

All stages of the pilot project were carried out with a maximum level of transparency and were publicized in the relevant sections of the MES website.

The project represents the first approved use of EIT technology for postgraduate entrance examinations and has proven its effectiveness in protecting applicants from corruption risks while increasing transparency of the admissions process. This not only simplified the admissions process for participating higher education institutions but also for applicants who were able to sit a single examination the results of which were accepted by 9 higher education institutions. Further implementation of the project and its extension to other academic disciplines could become a mechanism of for the selection of a high-quality contingent of students to study at the Master's degree level.

In the future, the experience of EIT-technology based entrance examinations for admission to Masters of Laws programs can also be used to create a single qualifying examination for lawyers, provided for in the draft strategy for the development of legal education which has been developed by an MES working group.

News section on the MES website
News section on the MES website
Relevant section of the MES website
About the strategy for the development of legal education

What is the level of cooperation between Ukraine and Poland in the field of higher technical education today?
Which joint projects involve Ukrainian and Polish technical higher education institutions?
What is a STEM-education? Why is it important to develop this educational strand in at the school level?
Organizations linking technical universities in Ukraine and Poland, the Association of Rectors of Technical Higher Education institutions of Ukraine and the Confederation of Rectors of Technical Universities of Poland, have signed an agreement on cooperation in the field of higher education and scientific research. The agreement will facilitate further cooperation between technical higher education institutions in both countries. For Ukraine this is relevant as it will contribute to the development of science in universities, the implementation of university scientific research through cooperation between academia and business and enhance the prestige of technical professions among students.    

Currently, Ukraine and Poland are cooperating within the framework of international programs as "Tempus" (22 projects out of the 94 in which Ukraine participates) and plan joint research work under the EU program "Horizon 2020", which Ukraine joined in 2015.
Another common area of ​​work for both Ukraine and Poland is to promote STEM-education at the university and school levels. The STEM acronym is used to describe a popular trend in education that encompasses Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. As part of this educational trend, the natural science and innovative technology components of educational curricula is reinforced. 
This year for the first time Ukraine managed to avoid a shortfall of students in publicly funded places for technical and natural science disciplines, whose popularity had previously fallen in recent years. Another problem facing higher education for technical disciplines in Ukraine is the insufficient preparation of students admitted to such programs. It is therefore necessary to raise the level of teaching for school subjects such as Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry and explain their importance and potential to future high school graduates. Poland and Ukraine will be working together on this issue.
News section on the MES website

The British Council in Ukraine invites managers and employees of the international offices of Ukrainian higher education institutions to participate in the program "University International Office - Best Practices. "The program aims to train the staff of university international offices and build institutional capacity at universities in the important process of internationalization of Ukrainian higher education.
The internationalization of higher education is a process that includes: involvement of universities in different countries for joint research and development, international exchange programs for teachers and students (academic mobility), the transition to recognized international standards (qualifications, academic titles, credits ECTS). QS World University Rankings, a well-known ranking of worldwide universities, necessarily takes into account factors that assess the level of internationalization of universities in the preparation of the rating list.    

For Ukraine, the internationalization of higher education is particularly important, given the historical factors in its development (long-term international isolation during the Soviet period) and the country's choice of a European path to development.
The British Council program for the staff of university international offices consists of two modules (each lasting two days) to be held in four cities - Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa and Lviv. Terms of the program provide that participants will take part in both modules, each of which is an integral part of the program.
The content of the modules includes:
Module 1
  • Role of an international office, functions, structure, recruitment, integration and cooperation with other departments
  • Development and implementation of an international strategy for an international office
  • Positioning the university - communication and marketing strategies, branding, organizations and mechanisms for expanding international relations
  • Development of the university website and the effective use of social media

Module 2
  • Optimizing support for international students: admission, exchange, integration with local student body
  • Development of international partnerships and cooperation in research activities
  • Raising funds and financial management: national, international (Erasmus +, Horizon 2020), corporate and charitable funding sources
Trainers in the program will be heads of international offices from leading British universities.
Read the selection criteria for the program and fill out the application form on the website of British Council in Ukraine.

News section on the MES website

Copyright © 2015 Minstry of Education and Science of Ukraine, All rights reserved.