One of the objectives of the Strategy 2030+ is to modify the content, methods and evaluation of education, including the concept of the Maturita exam in four-year VET programmes. The Czech Maturita exam consists of two parts, namely the State part and the profile part, the latter being in agreement with the thematic profile of individual schools and in their purview. Maturita exams are regulated by the Education Act and the related Decree. The profile part of the Maturita exam in each field of education is defined by the relevant framework educational programme. The choice of profile (vocational) subjects and their form (at least one of them needs to be done as a practical exam) is set by the school’s headmaster.
Since the adoption of the Education Act in 2004, the implemented changes in the concept of the Maturita exam concerned almost exclusively the State part. The pilot launched in September 2021 focuses, however, on the profile part. It assumes that graduates should be able to prove their ability to solve complex tasks in a real work environment, process them in a comprehensive manner using the knowledge acquired in the profile subjects, and defend them in a qualified manner.
The purpose of piloting the alternative exam of the profile part is also to verify the fact that education leads to the acquisition of much-needed comprehensive competences in addition to the partial learning outcomes in the relevant fields, which are being monitored in the course of the training. The comprehensive graduation thesis therefore aims to transform the exams in profile subjects of the Maturita exam into a long-term comprehensive task within a real work environment.
The graduation thesis: applying the knowledge instead of memorising facts
The comprehensive graduation thesis, its elaboration and subsequent defence, should cover a broader and practice-related topic. Students are expected to make use of the knowledge acquired in profile subjects of relevant education fields (which would otherwise be tested separately), as well as in general subjects (factual and correct use of written sources, using the learning content for the purposes of practical exams, etc.). During the students’ presentation of the conclusions and the oral defence of the thesis in front of the examination board, members of the board will assess students’ knowledge and skills in related subjects. Students who select a foreign language in the State part will carry out part of their thesis defence in that particular language. Although the comprehensive graduation thesis places higher demands on students, it gives them an opportunity to experience the selected topic in practice, and it teaches them how to present and defend the results of their work.
A total of nine schools signed up for the pilot. Upon its completion, the education ministry will evaluate the benefits of the new concept and decide whether the comprehensive graduation thesis will become a standard alternative to the existing Maturita exam at upper secondary VET schools.
The final decision on the inclusion of the comprehensive graduation thesis in the schools’ educational programme is up to the headmasters.