Will the students pass the new exam?

Corona Special: Students cannot attack the final exam due to insufficient preparation due to Corona

Helmut A. Graf,
Lawyer,
partner

Do you also have school-age children? If so, then you will have seen first hand that they are the main victims of the corona pandemic and the associated school closings. Not only that the kids could no longer have social contact with their peers overnight, but also because of the limited lessons during the lockdown, but also in the time afterwards, considerable gaps in knowledge have opened up, which now lead all over the country to that the kids have a lot harder time in school and are exposed to a lot of stress. Pupils who were in their final classes in the 2019/2020 school year were particularly hard hit. A secondary school student from Braunschweig wanted to attack her diploma in an urgent procedure because the school had only awarded her the secondary school diploma, but not the extended secondary diploma. Her grades were too bad for that. The student said that this was due to inadequate and inadequate exam preparation as a result of the corona restrictions and moved to court in an urgent procedure. However, the Administrative Court of Braunschweig then rejected the application by decision of October 7, 2020 (6 B 160/20). The judges came to the conclusion that the schools are not allowed to award a “Corona Bonus” for exams, but only allow the performance of the students to be included in the assessment. Corona-related cutbacks in exam preparation are generally accepted by the students.

Dispute over grade 4 in English and German

The applicant was a student in a senior class at a secondary school in Braunschweig. In order to achieve the extended secondary degree, it would have been necessary for her to achieve an average grade of at least 3 in the compulsory subjects German, English and mathematics. However, she only received one in mathematics. It was rated 4 in English and German. The student attributed her poor performance to inadequate and inadequate exam preparation by the school as a result of the corona restrictions. She had not been adequately prepared for the final exam by the school. Incidentally, due to the special circumstances of the corona pandemic and the associated school dropout when awarding the final grades, the school should have included this in the awarding of grades as part of an educational assessment.

Lack of preparation for the exam was not reported in good time

She was not heard in court because the administrative judges let the student "fail" for formal reasons. According to the judges, she did not complain in good time about the deficiencies in the preparation for the examination and could therefore no longer refer to them. Deficiencies in exam preparation must be reported before the start of the exams and not only after receipt of the certificate. This is dictated by the principle of equal opportunities.

Impairments to exam preparation are generally accepted

The judges then also made it clear that it did not matter, because a summary examination did not reveal that the school had committed legal errors in preparing for the examination. Pandemic impairments in exam preparation affect all students equally, so that they have to be accepted by the students. The judges also pointed out that face-to-face lessons had taken place at the school before and after the school closed, and online lessons had also taken place during the school's closure. There was also the possibility of extensive contact with the teachers. In addition, during school closings, students, especially in the final classes, were allowed to demand an increased level of self-discipline and initiative when working on the subject matter.

In addition, the Ministry of Culture wanted to enable the students to take a regular exam despite the difficult circumstances caused by Corona. Their professional advancement should not be impaired by postponing the examinations or the issuing of grades, especially with regard to upcoming applications. In addition, the final grades should only take into account the performance achieved by the respective examinees. An increase in grades for educational reasons, also against the background of Corona, is not allowed.

Annotation:
It is not known whether the judges involved in the decision had school-age children themselves. For those who have had school-age children locked down, the decision should at least raise a frown. The judges obviously assume that it would have been up to the children to use initiative and self-discipline to compensate for the inadequate or inadequate lessons. The question that remains exciting is whether the failure rates will increase drastically this school year. This is because, due to Corona, no child failed in the last school year, but was allowed to advance on a probationary basis. However, since the Corona curriculum was not taken into account, i.e. the material for the new grade was started immediately, and the teachers try to obtain certificates of achievement as quickly as possible, because obviously new school closings are feared, children are currently not only complaining massively about the pressure in school , but also about the fact that, contrary to the pre-Corona period, her school performance has deteriorated significantly. It is precisely here that the gap between children who have support from their parents and those who are on their own should widen even more. That is why there are already initial discussions as to whether the curriculum should not be adjusted due to corona.