WARSAW — Poland, located in Central Europe, has worked on revamping its educational system since the early 1990s. While it used to score below average, in the most recent Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2012 Poland exceeded the average.
Addition of Lower Secondary School
In 1998, Poland’s Educational Minister, Miroslaw Handke, decided to rework student’s educational route. Previously, students would go to primary school for eight years, and then move on to vocational school; Handke decided to reduce primary school to only six years, and developed a new level of schooling called lower secondary school. This new development would last three years, so adding another full year of education before vocational school.
This new level would focus on arithmetic, writing and reading, as well as putting more students through language courses. In the year 2000, only 1 percent of students took a language course for four or more hours a week; this figure dramatically increased to 76 percent by the year 2006.
Introduction of Standardized Tests
Education in Poland was further improved in the early 1990s, when Poland introduced standardized tests. These tests would be taken at the end of the primary, lower secondary school, and vocational school years. Having a standard for all schools to reach helped make things more structural. However, to make sure that teachers still felt that they could run their class in their own, unique way, schools allowed a more diverse option of textbooks in the class room.
Teacher Pay Increase
With these new additions to education in Poland, it makes sense that teachers themselves would also receive some changes. Another thing that the OECD noted in their observations was that Poland’s teachers’ pay was below the average — between the period of 2005-2015 the pay for teachers from all levels of education was raised by 23 percent.
Sadly, even with these changes Poland still falls below the national average. While these implementations are positive, Poland still needs greater progress.
Focus on New Topics
While Poland has done remarkably well in raising their educational status, there is still always room for improvement. While the lower secondary school and vocational schools placed Poland above average in cognitive skills, the nation is now lacking in standard problem solving. Not only lacking, but the Program for International Student Assessment says that they are well below the national average in 2012.
Poland has clearly shown that they are willing to change up curriculums, and now the focus should be finding the right balance of when, where and how to learn certain topics.
– Scott Kesselring