New Education Watchdog Chief Selected

Education and Science Minister Dmitry Livanov has tapped a new head for the education watchdog Rosobrnadzor after its previous chief was forced out following a series of cheating scandals in this year's Unified State Exams.

Sergei Kravtsov, a program director from the ministry, has been selected and all that remains is for Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to rubber stamp the appointment, Interfax reported Thursday, citing an unidentified government official.

On Wednesday, Medvedev fired Ivan Muravyov, who had held the position for less than a year.

But the new selection has raised eyebrows in education circles.

Unlike his predecessors, Kravtsov is not a part of the existing Rosobrnadzor team, nor is he part of the education minister's inner circle. His nomination was a "compromise" between the watchdog and the ministry, Kommersant reported Thursday, citing an unidentified government official.

But Kravtsov has been involved with Rosobrnadzor before. From 2008 to 2011 he headed the Federal Test Center, an organization responsible for formulating test papers and invigilating exams.

Victor Panin, chairman of an organization the deals with education reform, said that Kravtsov is not the type of person the watchdog needs right now, Kommersant reported. "Of course, the Federal Test Center, where Kravtsov worked before, is directly related to the Unified State Exams, but it would be better if this position was given to someone from law enforcement or another policing organization," he said. "The tasks Rosobrnadzor is facing now are related to overseeing and controlling" test procedures.

The Unified State Exam program is a standard set of examinations at the end of high school. Students are required to pass these exams in order to enter a university. Taking advantage of Russia's

nine time zones, students who have taken the tests the Far East share the details over the Internet with students in the west, who in turn earn much higher marks than they normally would.

Education officials also found that exam commissioners in 18 regions doctored test results to give students higher grades. Serious inconsistencies in grades were found in 77 percent of the 1,500 test papers checked by the authorities in June.

Rosobrnadzor acknowledged problem but didn't say how it would be addressed in the future.

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