Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday apologized for the abrupt termination of the tri-city high school entrance exam policy after the Ministry of Education (MOE) announced its decision to discontinue the exam next year.
Holding the exam next year, as the Taipei City Government intended, would violate students’ rights because the tri-city exam would have been held on the same day as the national entrance exam, MOE Vice Minister Chen Yi-shin (陳益興) said yesterday after a meeting with Taipei City’s Department of Education. He added that discontinuing the tri-city exam would not affect students, as the two exams shared striking similarities in both curriculum and textbooks.
The MOE’s announcement came as a surprise for Hau and his team, as the city government had previously declared its determination to continue the policy next year amid controversy over the exam’s admission threshold.
“We’ve tried our best [to push for upholding the policy] and we regret that things went against our expectations. The city government respects the ministry’s decision ... and I apologize for any [bad] consequences it will have on students and parents,” Hau said.
The city government’s priority, he said, is to discuss solutions with schools in order to protect the rights of eighth and ninth graders, who would be affected by the termination of the exam policy.
The exam, which was used in Taipei City, New Taipei City (新北市) and Keelung for the first time in May, is part of the “single-version textbook” policy Hau introduced in 2008.
Hau yesterday said the policy was proposed in 2008 to ease students’ burden under the circumstances that the national entrance exams were held twice, and nine-year compulsory education was not to be extended to 12 years, which is now scheduled to happen in 2013.
Department of Education Commissioner Ting Ya-wen (丁亞雯) yesterday also defended the policy, saying that controversies surrounding the problematic reference scores for school admissions, which she said was only a technical problem, did not change the fact that the policy helped reduce pressure on students by standardizing textbooks and drawing exam questions exclusively from them.
She said the department would hold a meeting with junior-high school principals within a week to discuss measures in response to the MOE’s decision.
In response to some parents and students’ concerns about the impact of the policy’s termination on test takers next year, Ting said the department would communicate with students and parents, and would explain its measures clearly once a consensus is reached.