While the schools in the South of the Netherlands have already closed for summer vacation, the students in the Central region still have one more week to go, and those in the North, two more weeks. 

vacation regions in the Netherlands

A lot of secondary school students are anxiously calculating whether they will pass or fail the year. 

This tool makes it easier for them. They can see which grade they need to get for a test, in order to get a 5.5 (pass), or higher. 


Transition rules

It depends on the school, the level, and the year under which circumstances they may move onto the next year. Check for the ‘overgangsnormen‘ (transition rules) in the school guide.

 Dutch grading 1-10

Does your child have a 6 on average on their final report card for all their subjects together? Congratulations! They will automatically move onto the next year.

It is usually allowed to have a maximum of two insufficient grades for a pass – one 4 and one 5 the lowest. In this context they talk about Tekortpunten (Deficiency points). With a maximum of three deficiency points (a 4 is two points short of a 6, and a 5 is one point short), a student could still pass, provided they can compensate with higher grades for the other subjects (Compensatiepunten). With a 7, you get 1 compensation point, with an 8 you get two points, and with a 9 or 10, you get three points. 

Core subjects

UK flag

But, this is not always the case. There are at least three core subjects (kernvakken): Dutch, English and math. For these core subjects, a maximum of only one 5 is still allowed to pass the year. 

And after the students have chosen a profile in the higher classes, they may also have a maximum of one 5 for the obligatory subjects of their profile (Profielvakken). At some religious schools, the subject of religion is also considered a core subject. 

Some schools have different norms and rules, so the above is not the standard procedure.

Under discussion

For some students, the decision to pass or repeat is still inconclusive. They become a ‘bespreekgeval’; they are ‘under discussion’. Apart from their grades, a group of teachers also looks at the student’s attitude, motivation, work ethics, possible diagnose (for example, in case of dyslexia and an insufficient grade for languages), and possible circumstances that might have made it difficult for the student to study (for example, being sick for an extended period of time, or a close relative who passed away). With a positive combined decision, the student may still pass.

This group of teachers may also decide that, when the student has performed extremely well, they may pass to the next year AND a higher level, from 1 HAVO to 2 VWO, for example. This is called ‘opstromen’. 

On the contrary, other students might be advised to go to a lower level next school year – called afstromen.

It is common for parents to be invited for a report meeting in the last week of the school year. So, prepare yourselves well, and learn the school’s overgangsnormen by heart. Hopefully, your child will transition (overgaan) to the next year. 

How the test grading at Dutch schools works in comparison with the US, you can learn in this informative video. (I have posted about this video before).

Dutch grading vs. American