Wed, Nov 22, 2017 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTER ]

Standardized testing faults

The current system of study stipulates that a requirement for junior-high school students to progress through to senior-high school is that they must go through the Comprehensive Assessment Program for Junior High School Students (CAP). The CAP ranks the students in groups A, B, C according to the grades they achieve.

Those children with excellent academic performance will set themselves high goals, either a 5A++ grade or the full allowable points. Further, the city and county governments and the schools that produce the top-performing students in the program regard this achievement as a ringing endorsement of their own achievement, and a badge of honor. Indeed, the efforts of those schools are to be applauded. After all, Taiwan’s future relies on those children and their outstanding academic performance.

Unfortunately, the educational authorities effectively operate a “double peak” system, in which the poorest performers tend to fall through the cracks in the current education system. Their failure to perform well in the academic testing more than anything demonstrates their unsuitability for academic study. In other words, these students may well be enthusiastic about learning and studying, it’s just that they do not do well in the traditional subjects such as Chinese, English, mathematics, the natural sciences and the social sciences. That is not to say that they will not excel in other subjects, such as the arts and the humanities, the life sciences and technology, or even competitive sports.

The educational authorities’ approach to students who get C grades is to put them through remedial education, to try to improve their performance in the core competencies. They then send inspectors to certain focus schools to monitor the quality of teaching carried out there and to look over the student lists to see if there are any standout performances.

The problem with this is that it puts the focus entirely on the quality of the teachers in the schools, and does not admit anything of the fact that some students simply might not be suited to academic learning, and would be better guided toward starting nonacademic technical or vocational subjects earlier than they might otherwise do. If these students are allowed to move into this direction earlier, they will have a much better chance at embarking on a bright future in a field much more suited to their particular talents.

The government and the various education departments around the country should be more attentive to this problem, and do something about it.

Liu You-geng

Changhua County

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