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Hungary: targeted development catch-up programme to reduce early school leaving

Results from initial testing in 2018-19 show that upper secondary learners who participated in ‘targeted development’ activities have seen their performance improve.

The initiative is part of activities carried out under the national project 'Reducing the number of early school leavers in vocational training'. It included a nationwide survey by the Ministry for Innovation and Technology and the National Office of VET and adult learning in 2018/19 to assess basic competences of VET learners and provide them with customised support.

The survey, conducted by expert Éva Judit Hámori, Director General of the Debrecen VET Centre, had several objectives:

  • identifying vulnerable learners at risk of leaving school early by assessing their personal and social competences and engaging them in a catch-up programme;
  • identifying high-achieving students;
  • comparing the performance of students from different regions of the country and of students learning in the same class.

The programme was carried out in 429 VET institutions for learners enrolled in the first year (grade 9) of upper secondary VET. A first (paper-based) survey took place at the beginning of the school year with participation of 45 061 learners from 2 061 classes, followed by a second, online survey in May 2019 with 38 922 learners from 2 077 classes.

The survey included activities assessing several key competences, namely mother tongue literacy (communication in mother tongue: vocabulary reading skills, text comprehension);  mathematics (numeracy, converting units of measurement, conclusions for physical quantities, estimation, measurement); thinking (systematisation, reasoning, problem-solving, creativity); and communication (interpretation of graphs, charts and figures, representation,  presentation, relations in the plane and in the space, relational vocabulary, text interpretation).

Two learning competences were assessed: attention and memory. The methodology used to create online assessment tests for different learner profiles and groups was based on testing the same skillset to ensure result comparability. Students and their teachers received immediate feedback on their performance.

Customising training material per learning group

During the pilot programme, 10 118 students (26% out of upper secondary VET learners tested in September 2018) were selected and participated in targeted development programme activities throughout the school year. Teachers, school psychologists, teachers responsible for tailored and differentiated learning, and special education teachers were involved in the programme.

Two learning groups were created focusing on basic mathematics and mother tongue literacy (skills specified in the general education framework curriculum of vocational programmes). Learners practised weekly, for at least one hour out of class time, until the date of the second assessment at the end of the school year.

Results from the second survey that took place in May 2019 showed that the performance of students taking part in targeted development programmes had improved by 8-10%, while that of students who did not participate in such programmes had remained unchanged.  

The results from the pilots suggest that introducing preventive and corrective development programmes is beneficial for learners in school-based VET: in October 2019, nation-wide input assessments were carried out and new targeted development programmes launched.

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GINOP-6.2.2-VEKOP/15 - A szakképzést végzettség nélkül elhagyók számának csökkentése (A PÁLYÁZAT LEZÁRULT!)
[The 'Reducing the number of early school leavers in vocational training' programme]