Shang­hai teach­ers to give let­ter grades

Ed­u­ca­tion com­mis­sion over­hauls the way per­for­mance is eval­u­ated

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By ZHOU WENTING in Shang­hai zhouwent­ing@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

Shang­hai is over­haul­ing how pri­mary schools mea­sure stu­dent per­for­mance af­ter a pi­lot pro­gram showed the move could en­cour­age a greater in­ter­est in ed­u­ca­tion.

From this aca­demic year, start­ing Sept 1, the writ­ten midterm and fi­nal ex­ams that Chi­nese schools have re­lied on for decades will be scrapped, and in­stead par­ents will re­ceive re­port cards on­which their child is graded in each sub­ject from A to D.

The grade will re­flect not only stu­dents’ per­for­mance on reg­u­lar tests, but also their in­ter­est in a sub­ject, their gen­eral be­hav­ior — such as the at­ten­tion they pay to study and as­sign­ments — how tidy they keep their text­books and how many books they read in their spare time, ac­cord­ing to the city’s ed­u­ca­tion com­mis­sion.

The changes came af­ter a three-year pi­lot in­volv­ing first- and sec­ond-graders, which the author­i­ties said Zhu Lei, re­sulted in stu­dents be­com­ing proac­tive in their stud­ies.

“Chi­nese stu­dents are used to tak­ing writ­ten tests in which the high­est mark is 100. But such a method has its lim­i­ta­tions, as it only shows the re­sult, not the process,” said Zhu Lei of the com­mis­sion’s pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion de­part­ment. “Some­times, stu­dents are dis­cour­aged when they fail to get full marks be­cause they lose just one or two points.

“With the new sys­tem, stu­dents who don’t do well in a quiz can still get an A if they prove that they have un­der­stood a sub­ject and show a good at­ti­tude to­ward learn­ing.”

There is no set num­ber of how many stu­dents can get an A grade. “The whole class can get As if all the stu­dents achieve the cur­ricu­lum stan­dard,” Zhu said.

How­ever, some teach­ers ar­gue that the new sys­tem may not clearly demon­strate to a child or their par­ents how well they are per­form­ing aca­dem­i­cally.

“Marks are more straight­for­ward than grades. A stu­dent get­ting 50 points and an­other get­ting 10 points could both get aD, so par­ents may not get a clear pic­ture of how much the child could im­prove,” said Cao Lin, a Chi­nese-lan­guage teacher at Tairi School in Fengx­ian district.

She said the new sys­tem will re­duce the pres­sure placed on stu­dents, but it is un­likely to stop par­ents from sign­ing their chil­dren up for sup­ple­men­tary lessons.

“At the end of the day, stu­dents face fierce com­pe­ti­tion to se­cure spots in elite high school­san­duni­ver­si­ties,” Cao said. “Par­ents won’t want to see their child lag be­hind, even when they are just start­ing ele­men­tary school.”

The whole class can get As if all the stu­dents achieve the cur­ricu­lum stan­dard.”

of­fi­cial from ed­u­ca­tion com­mis­sion of Shang­hai

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