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Thus, the 2006 record of implementation of the priority national project Edu cation evidences that it has catalyzed the government structures activities with respect to the most pressing challenges in the educational area and allocation of additional financial resources. But the question remains unanswered as to whether the avenues and concrete steps made under the project form a logical system that would help the national educational system mature further to a qualitatively new level, or they simply help solve, in the operative mode, certain, persisting for long, challenges, thus fitting quite well in the traditional forms of management, such as, for instance, the federal program of promotion of education.

5. The 2006 Unified state examination outputs. In 2006, educational struc tures of 79 regions have embarked upon the new USE system, with over 830,school graduates passing the examination (72% of their overall number), which is at 10% more than in the prior year. While 46 regions (58%) held USE by practically all the standard majors, 22 regions (28%) held it by 3 to 7 subjects, and 11 regions (14%) by 12 subjects. Some regions abstained: the Republic of Ingoushetia, Subsidies provided for by the Federal Act On the 2006 federal budget. The discrepancy with the figures in the Actually earmarked column is explained by additional allocations out of the federal budget to 28 Subjects of RF with account of payment of holiday compensations.

RUSSIAN ECONOMY IN trends and outlooks Chechen Republic, Primorsky krai, Stavropolsky krai, Kemerovo oblast, Nizhny Novgorod oblast, Orel oblast, Koryaksky autonomous okrug, Evenk autonomous okrug.

It should be noted that in contrast to 2005, there was a considerable growth in the number of regions wherein more than 90% of the 2006 graduates were passing exams on mathematics and the Russian language (on mathematics 29 regions vs.

22 in 2005; on Russian 24 vs. 12 in 2005). The examinations results already allow various comparisons, to build an assessment of the quality of education by major subjects and a comparative analysis between institutions of general education in terms of quality of tuition.

Overall results of the examinations proved to be similar to those reported in 2005, and they correlate with results of recent monitoring. While the 2006 gradu ates demonstrated somewhat better performance by some basic subjects (for ex ample, the number of those who earned the maximum score (100 out of 100) has grown vs. the prior year by all the subjects (except for literature), their results in mathematics and literature have proved to be lower than those registered in 2005.

In compliance with statute of January 20, 2006, No.14 of the RF Ministry of Education On participation of the public educational institutions of the secondary and high professional education under the jurisdiction of the RF Ministry of Educa tion in the experiment on introduction of the unified state examination in 2006, the admission to universities and special institutions of high education was conducted basing on the USE results by 100% of specialties by special institutions of high education and universities that had already took part in the experiment, and by 50% of specialties by universities that participated in the experiment for the first time, except for Moscow based special institutions of high education and universities, which, again, made decisions on admission basing on the USE results on their own.

Of 23 federal ministries and agencies that have their own educational institu tions, 19 have coordinated the participation of the said institutions in the experi ment, following the below procedures:

- the experiment is conducted in the form set by the aforementioned statute of the RF Ministry of Education by the institutions whose founders are: the RF Min istry of Finance, the RF Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, the RF Ministry for Nuclear Energy, The Federal Agency for Media, the RF Agency for River Fleet, the RF Agency for Sports, the RF Agency for Culture, the RF Agency for Forestry, the RF Agency for Fishery, the Federal Tax Service;

- participation by 50% of specialties: universities under jurisdiction of the RF Agency for Aviation, the RF Agency for Communication, the RF Agency for Health Care, the Russian Railways, the RF Ministry for Agriculture;

- only taking into account of the USE results: the institutions whose founders are the Supreme Court of RF, the RF Ministry for International Affairs, the RF Minis try of Defense, the RF Interior Ministry, and the RF Ministry for Emergency Situations;

Section Social Sphere - refused from conducting the experiment and taking into account the USE re sults: the institutions under the Federal Security Service (1), the RF Ministry of Justice(6), and the Federal Customs Service (1).

Table Main Indicators of the Expansion of USE in the Educational Sphere in RF % of Number of Number of Number of Number of graduates Number of Number of the RF Sub special subjects by graduates opting for universities ministries year jects par institutions which USE is opting for USE in their and their and agen ticipating in of high conducted USE total num branches cies USE education ber 2001 5 8 30,000 2.3 16 2002 16 9 298,921 22.8 123 79 2003 47 12 654,115 49.5 464 928 2004 64 13 820,338 60.3 946 1,525 2005 78 13 853,495 61.6 1,543 1,765 15* 2006 79** 13 830,415 63.5 1,650 1,889 83*** 13 840,000 70.0 1,800 2,000 plan Notes. * with account of the reduction in the number of the federal ministries and agencies of the RF Government made in the course of the current administrative reform;

** with account of the integration of Perm oblast and Komi Permyatsky autonomous okrug into Permsky krai;

*** with account of integration into Krasnoyarsk krai of Taymyr and Evenk autonomous okrugs, effec tive as of January 1, 2007.

Source: the RF Agency for Supervision in the Educational Area.

By the 2006 USE results, over 500,000 enrollees entered universities, of whom 35% came from other cities and 25.5% from rural areas. For the first time ever disabled entrants (those ear, vision and locomotorium challenged) were also granted an opportunity to take part in USE.

Meanwhile, the RF Agency for Supervision in the Educational Area believes that some universities that accepted the 2006 USE certificates would run to ex tremes, for they either set an extremely high threshold for the excellent score (starting from 95), or accepted entrants who demonstrated very poor performance (scoring 15 24). Thus, in the former case universities lost a part of promising enrol lees (for they switched to less demanding institutions), while in the latter they ob viously accepted not the best and the brightest. It should be particularly noted that, if translated into school marks, by many subjects the USE score 30 is an unsatisfactory result. As by 2009 it is planned to make USE compulsory for all graduates, no Russian university would accept such enrollees, even on the paid basis.

In 2007, there will be 83 regions to take part in the experiment (except for the Chechen Republic, Primorsky krai and Nizhny Novgorod oblast), and the number of graduates passing it should make up over 840,000 (75% of their total number). The examination will be conducted by all 13 subjects, but their number will vary from re gion to region. For example, in 2007, in Moscow the only compulsory subject will be Russian, while passing examinations on yet another 9 subjects (mathematics, physics, chemistry, literature, biology, geography, Russian history, social science, and English), students will be able to choose between the form of test and the tradi tional form. All the universities and special institutions of high education headquar RUSSIAN ECONOMY IN trends and outlooks tered in the city of Moscow and Moscow oblast (except for Moscow Lomonosov University) will account the USE score as entrance examinations.

The results of the statistical data on USE, an analysis of surveys on graduates and entrants and their parents, as well as on representatives of the university fac ulty have evidenced a greater objectivity of the USE results. According to VTSIOM (as of June 2006), 43% of the surveyed citizens of RF positively consider an oppor tunity to enter a university without additional examinations (as concerns the younger generation aged between 18 and 24 years, this opinion is shared by the majority of 59%). They emphasize positive elements of USE: an opportunity to en ter a university without additional examinations, equal opportunities for graduates from different schools, and simplification of the entrance procedures.

In 2006, the USE system has undergone further modifications, which should contribute to its future advancement.

To increase the accessibility of vocational training for young residents in re mote regions, there was created and tested a technology of organization and con duct of USE in remote territories (such as areas in the Komi Republic, Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Khabarovsk krai, Irkutsk, Kamchatka and Tomsk oblasts, as well as Khanty Mansy autonomous okrug Yugra and Chukotka autonomous okrug);

young people from the needy families continued to take part in the testing of a uni fied system of the competition based admission by correspondence to universities and special institutions of the high education (i. e. without traveling to a university campus), which means considerable saving for their households. As many as universities in 5 regions and 40, 336 enrollees took part in this experiment in 2006, with the number of those ultimately admitted under this particular arrangement ac counted for 19, 785 (vs. 12, 182 reported in 2005).

It should be noted that the conduct of this particular experiment has resulted in extension of the application of informational technologies both in the educational process and in the course of design of an attesting technology for institutions of general education. Plus, the use of USE results for the sake of enhancement of standards of the general education and educational programs has resulted in the rise of a new generation of textbooks and manuals.

Meanwhile, the protection of the USE controlling and measuring apparatus has been fairly lax. This is evidenced by the fact that last year the USE results were canceled in 19 locations where it had been conducted, as they had proved to be far higher than the average score across a region. That is why in 2007 all tests that will score 95 plus shall become subject to an additional verification. Finally, there were substantial delays with issuance of the USE certificates in many regions, and graduates failed to send them to the universities on time.

While discussing the 2006 results of the experiment with introduction of USE, many regions and councils of university rectors voiced the necessity of organiza tion and conduct of USE in one wave (in 2006, it was held in two waves: by schools (May and June) and by universities (July). That would allow to save a cer tain part of financial and human resources, but, on the other hand, there exist groups of potential enrollees who would objectively miss the USE in June (such as Section Social Sphere demobilized conscripts 0.9% of the total number of the participants in USE at the stage of university entrance examinations; citizens of the CIS countries 1.3%, children of the RF citizens who reside overseas 0.09%, and foreign citizens 0.02% of the total number of the USE participants. It is worth noting that in 2006 the proportion of the enrollees who took part in the second wave accounted for 68.5% of the total number of the USE participants. Hence, it seems appropriate to develop in 2007 standardized legal procedures of conducting USE in the one wave mode and design special technologies for those enrollees who, because of objective reasons, will miss USE in May and June.

As well, given the importance of the current monitoring of the quality of edu cation over the whole school term, it is planned to continue the experiment on con ducting an independent evaluation (testing) for the ninth formers (the so called small USE), for students in the primary school (at the end of the fourth year), as well as at secondary vocational training institutions and colleges, and for the 2nd and 3rd year university students.

Meanwhile, the RF Government has submitted to the Federal Duma a bill enti tled On introducing amendments to the RF Act On education and the Federal Act On the high and post university professional education in the part of introduction of the unified state examination. The Duma has conducted the first hearing in au tumn 2006, and fairly heated debates exposed an ambiguous attitude towards the general mandatory transition to the USE system.

There are three issues on which the debate centers: the set of the compulsory subjects for USE; selection criteria of universities, the admission to which implies an additional examination; and the extension of the circle of competitions the vic tory in which grants the right of entrance to institutions of high education. Obvi ously, as the modifications associated with the legitimization of USE appear so sig nificant, they require the most detailed account of all criticisms and proposals on the said bill, so that to make sure the public at large positively accepts its final ver sion and its implementation does not pose even minimum risks to the educational system.

Many years of work on a new form of organization of the public sector were crowned with the promulgation of Federal Act No. 174 FZ of November 3, 2006, On autonomous institutions and the respective amendments made to the legisla tion on non for the profit organizations, education and culture.

The preparation of the bill fueled serious concerns amid professional commu nities in the areas of culture and education, as they spotted in that the danger of commercialization of the social and cultural sphere and privatization of its property complex. A difficult, multi stage process of conciliation of various agencies, as well as professional and social organizations, stances has resulted in a compro mise between different approaches to identification of rights and obligations of the institutions of the new form and their founders.

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