Without PET or FIRST: Madrid’s bilingual centers left without an English level test until next year

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admin April 6, 2022 71 Views
Updated 2022/04/06 at 4:07 AM
13 Min Read
Without PET or FIRST: Madrid’s bilingual centers left without an English level test until next year
Without PET or FIRST: Madrid's bilingual centers left without an English level test until next year Listen to this article

Poster for a campaign by the Madrid community to promote bilingual schools.
Poster for a campaign by the Madrid community to promote bilingual schools.Samuel Sanchez

The third year of the pandemic and the third year that the external assessment test of the Madrid community’s bilingual program is a disaster. This year there is no company that has won the bidding competition to conduct the exam for the sixth year elementary and fourth year ESO students of bilingual schools, who go through this test every year for two reasons: obtaining an official degree and Their academic future in a bilingual center for decision making. If they go through the itinerary called Khand, they will study three subjects in English; If they reach the program, then only one. An important distinction for many of them. Peoplesert International Ltd., which conducted some chaotic exams last year, which also gave late results, this year presented the only offer to take the exam and at a low cost, for which the administration has declared the process “desert”. And without company, there is no test. Madrid’s community promises to do this “as soon as possible before the end of 2022”. For some, it may be too late. For others, a symptom of something going wrong in Madrid.

“Why don’t serious companies show up?” Asks Esteban Alvarez, spokesman for the directors of the secondary school (Adimad). “Because everything is messed up here. They flee Madrid because the economic situation they propose is not profitable.

The education ministry last week wrote an email to the centers on which EL passes had access, saying “this year the process has been deserted.” The “intended”, continues in the letter, “is to introduce an alternative process that allows all students to take exams before the end of the year.” “Due to this delay”, he goes on, decisions in the process of assigning students to section and program avenues will be made primarily on the basis of academic records and final stage reports of the student, “as already done in April had gone. 2020″.

Despite sending that email to the centres, the administration has insisted to this newspaper that the exam will be done “as soon as possible” and “there is no fixed date yet”, without clarifying whether the exam will take place. End of this course.

Community of Madrid – consisting of 597 public bilingual centers, of which 194 are institutions; and 223—enrolling a total of 358,000 students—have defended their active commitment to include English as a first foreign language for more than a decade. In fact, since 2004 it has run its bilingual teaching programme, where subjects in English occupy at least 30% of teaching time.

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To assess what became one of the star proposals of the Esperanza Aguirre government, the community of Madrid promised students participating in the program that they would have free access to external assessment tests.

It was a means of measuring and guaranteeing the quality of a bilingual program in English through examinations conducted by prestigious assessment centres, such as Trinity College, London, or the Cambridge English Assessment, depending on the University of Cambridge. But the reputation has been on the ground for years. So much so that these companies with the reputation behind them no longer even participate in the annual bidding competition.

The result of all this, this course will have to suffer above all those students who go to secondary, who will choose the section or program itinerary based on the report made by their teaching team, which leaves the air if they pass the external examination. As a result of whether or not to lose objectivity and put teachers in the spotlight, saturated since the pandemic began. And now with the encouragement of the parents behind.

Enrique Osorio, Minister of Education, University and Science, and spokesman for the Madrid Community.
Enrique Osorio, Minister of Education, University and Science, and spokesman for the Madrid Community.Alberto Ortega (Europe Press)

Oscar Centeno, a spokesman for primary school principals, acknowledged that the situation is “another complication” because it requires more coordination from teachers, who will have to produce a report that is as objective as possible. However, Centeno also understands the wait. “Last year was a disaster and notes were distributed late, so we were already forced to do the same of course. And the last one, well, the same, because at that time it could not be done because of imprisonment. We have been doing that report since the start of the pandemic. ,

Every year, the community of Madrid puts out a tender for a price that has increased from 2.5 million in 2015 to 5.4 million this year. The company that won it tests four skills (comprehension and expression, oral and written) of children under the age of six in elementary, which are usually presented in A2 or B1 (according to the Cambridge English Assessment nomenclature). According to the equivalent of the Key English Test (KET, or Preliminary English Test, known as PET) and in the fourth year of the ESO, those who prepare for B2 or C1 (First or Advanced Certificate, respectively). In the last six years, around 200,000 students have applied.

But this exam has been embroiled in controversies three times in a row. In 2020, due to the pandemic, the tests were canceled and the regional government promised the students that they would take the exam next year. However, he had to protest in different media outlets as he did not keep his promise. After all, he did it after a year and a half.

But the bloodiest thing happened last year. Peoplecert International took over the tests and in some centers the examinees arrived hours late, didn’t know what to do and even went to the wrong center and took them to the wrong centre.

The company has suffered from that experience, despite presenting itself this year with offers of over 40% off the budget set by the community.

“It was found that the offer in both the lots was agreed in the presumption of abnormality [al ser] 41.7% and 42.3% of the bidding base are below budget”, explains the administration in the contract portal, which is used to revise the plan for the company. “The reality is that the provision of service” [en el curso 2020-21] was defective, affecting 2,285 students in the 6th year of primary education (Lot 1), and 2,985 students in the fourth year of ESO (Lot 2) (…). It is to be noted that in case of Lot 2 this faulty service affected more than 12% of the students who had to take the exam (…)”.

Meanwhile, teachers prepare to take on additional responsibility. Esther López de Ochoa, the bilingual coordinator of a center in the Madrid region, admits that the objectivity of external testing is lost in its strictest sense, although she adds something that could be positive: that is how they correct “a bad day”. can do. A student in an examination. “The problem with this is that the bidding competition is taken from the same syllabus in which the exam has to be taken. They should now decide about the next year”, he suggests. Faced with this new unexpected event, she has thought that in order to make her report as complete as possible, she will conduct an English test, similar to the Cambridge English Assessment, to evaluate her students. “It’s something I didn’t anticipate. But since what I’ve been working on so far is going to waste, I’ll try to modify it that way. ,

However, this choice will be up to each teacher, as they are not obligated to do so. “When the end of the curriculum is nearing, we will face pressure from parents who will ask us on what basis do we base ourselves on preparing our children’s reports,” he continues.

Carmen Morillas, president of the Association of Parental Associations, also points to a recurring question by Francisco Ziner de los Ríos directors, educators and CC OO: “The problem is that the service was outsourced to private companies. Why don’t fully prepared official language schools do this? The answer, however, is deeper: an internationally known title is issued by these companies. “Then our governments must fight to reaffirm the value of schools and their titles,” insists López de Ochoa. That horizon is far away. The close involves correcting the mistakes of Madrid students in their third year with English certificates.

Private companies charge up to ₹210 for each test

The fact that, for now, no company has won the competition of the Community of Madrid, does not mean that students cannot give that exam on time, that is, at the end of the course, as every year. Like everything, anyone who wants to get paid to do it will have their certificate, because you can always use the private route. Individual exams cost between 105 euros for the cheapest to 105 for the most expensive, an extreme that was hitherto accepted by the elderly, who go to the baccalaureate if they have the official title to request a scholarship. or later, access to a university degree requires that qualification in the language.

The Ministry of Education insists that students take the test “as soon as possible”, although the truth is that a new competition has not yet been released. “Various possibilities for hiring the service are being studied,” a spokesperson summarized without clarifying anything further.

Yes, when the directors got mail from the education ministry last week, they asked the administration whether the exam was conducted after the summer – as everything indicated it would be, which they transferred to different groups of parents. Have given. Meetings in educational centers are to be held by October. “September is a very bad month for boys entering the new curriculum,” explains Oscar Centeno, a spokesman for elementary schools.

“The government of Madrid is going aimlessly in the bilingual project. All for the hype is quantitative and they are deteriorating qualitative”, criticizes Isabelle Galvin, spokesperson for CC OO’s education. “The lack of ministry planning and organization causes loss to the students which will be more or less depending on the economic capacity of their family,” he laments.

Galvin also points to the outsourcing of tests to private companies as a cause of an underlying problem. “Last year they were a failed job and this year they are deserted because the companies entering these competitions want to do business, make a profit.”

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