Ed­u­ca­tion re­form to re­duce re­liance on gaokao scores

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By LEI LEI and ZHAO XINYING

Ex­am­i­na­tion scores will no longer be the only stan­dard for eval­u­at­ing stu­dents in the fu­ture, with the ed­u­ca­tion au­thor­ity plan­ning to soon re­lease a se­ries of re­form poli­cies for pub­lic opin­ion.

Liu Limin, vice-min­is­ter of ed­u­ca­tion, said on Thurs­day that fu­ture high school ex­am­i­na­tions will no longer ac­count for 100 per­cent of stu­dents’ scores, ac­cord­ing to Xin­hua News Agency.

The na­tional en­trance ex­am­i­na­tion for col­lege, or gaokao, has been used to eval­u­ate stu­dents for three decades.

In re­cent years, the gaokao has been crit­i­cized by the pub­lic for ig­nor­ing stu­dents’ over­all per­son­al­ity de­vel­op­ment and de­cid­ing their scholas­tic fates with only one exam.

The Com­mu­nist Party of China Cen­tral Com­mit­tee’s De­ci­siononMa­jorIs­sues Con­cern­ingCom­pre­hen­sively re­leased af­ter its Third Ple­nary Ses­sion last month, said there would be changes to the gaokao. Th­ese in­clude re­duc­ing the num­ber of ex­am­i­na­tion sub­jects and hav­ing more than one test in some sub­jects, such as English, each year. China will also con­sider a mul­ti­eval­u­a­tion sys­tem so schools do not en­roll stu­dents based solely on test per­for­mances.

Liu said the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion has worked out a plan for the re­form of ex­am­i­na­tions and en­roll­ments that will be opened for pub­lic sug­ges­tions soon.

The min­istry will re­lease the plan af­ter con­sid­er­ing the pub­lic’s sug­ges­tions and mak­ing ap­pro­pri­ate mod­i­fi­ca­tions, Liu said.

“We will try to present op­por­tu­ni­ties for stu­dents to take ex­ams more than once a year, and only the best re­sults of those tests will be counted,” Liu said.

Though no other de­tails have been re­leased so far, the re­form has been wel­comed by ex­perts at home and abroad.

Mur­ray Fowler, the mas­ter of Wellington Col­lege In­ter­na­tional Tian­jin, said the changes “mir­ror part of the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem in some schools in the United King­dom”.

“In that sys­tem, you can take the exam sev­eral times, and you can sep­a­rate it into two halves, which en­ables you to have one goal in the first year and, if you don’t do well, you can take the exam again if you want and set another goal in the sec­ond year,” said Fowler, who has worked in China since 2011.

“I think that’s a fair thing. Another thing about the sug­gested changes, which I think is re­ally good, is that it shouldn’t just be about ex­ams and tests. There should be other ways to look at what stu­dents can con­trib­ute, not just the aca­demic way.”

Ma Sirui, who will take the gaokao next year, wishes she could be one of those for whom the exam scores will not be all-im­por­tant.

“Not ap­ply­ing the 100-point sys­tem is a good thing,” said Ma, who goes to the Se­nior Mid­dle School at­tached to the Bei­jing Univer­sity of Chem­i­cal Tech­nol­ogy. “The stu­dents won’t have to worry about one point higher or lower any­more. If that hap­pens some­day, I’ll be jeal­ous.” But oth­ers had con­cerns. “If there is no stan­dard to judge by, then how do we en­sure fair­ness in ad­mit­tance to uni­ver­si­ties?” said Cui Lin­lin, mother of a fifth-grader in Bei­jing.

Chu Zhao­hui, a se­nior re­searcher at the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Ed­u­ca­tion Sciences, said to com­pletely im­ple­ment such a re­form, peo­ple have to to­tally change their mind­sets.

“To ease peo­ple’s wor­ries, we have to change the tra­di­tional frame of the ex­ams,” Chu said. “Ex­ams in the fu­ture should fo­cus on test­ing the stu­dents’ ba­sic abil­i­ties, not only their knowl­edge. An­a­lyt­i­cal abil­ity is more im­por­tant.”

Dai Ji­a­gan, a mem­ber of the Na­tional Ed­u­ca­tional Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee, said: “Test­ing should not be lim­ited to what stu­dents learn from text­books, but should in­clude how to use that knowl­edge. At the same time, the knowl­edge tested should be in ac­cor­dance with prac­ti­cal life.” Con­tact the writ­ers at leilei@ chi­nadaily.com.cn and zhaoxiny­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn Zhang Min in Tian­jin con­trib­uted to this story.

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