New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) and Greater Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) separately yesterday urged the Ministry of Education to make the changes to the new 12-year national compulsory education system as junior-high school students who attended the first Comprehensive Assessment Program were bogged down with anxiety after they submitted their school preference forms.
Both mayors are Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) members.
“This assessment program has put many parents and students through hell. It is supposed to reduce academic pressure on young students and alleviate parents’ worries, yet it ended up galvanizing far too many grievances and complaints,” Chu said during a meeting of the New Taipei City Council.
“More problems may ensue after the admission results are announced on June 20,” Chu said, calling on academics involved in the policymaking for the new system to conduct a thorough review.
Chu made the remarks hours before the deadline for submitting the school preference forms, which had been the main cause of unease among program participants and their parents over the past few weeks.
The most controversial part of the new education system, which is set to take effect in August, is the ranking system schools must adhere to when the numbers of students expecting to study in the schools exceed their enrollment quotas.
Under the ranking system, students will be evaluated based on their learning performance in different fields, their scores on the Comprehensive Assessment Program and how high the schools are placed on their lists of school choices.
Each section is worth 30 points and the students’ chance of admission are directly linked to the total score they receive.
For example, if students meet the enrollment qualifications for their first choice of school, they will get 30 points on the “school preference section;” if they are only eligible to enter their second choice, they will lose one point on that section, which could see students with high entrance exam scores ending up in a lower-ranked school.
Meanwhile, Hu said if an educational reform only causes pain, changes must be made.
“What kind of reform only brings more pains to young students and their parents?” Hu asked.
Hu added that the ministry had ignored his repeated calls for it to announce the number of students in each grade level to make the task of filling school preference forms easier.
Greater Taichung City Councilor Hsieh Chih-chung (謝志忠), whose son also attended this year’s Comprehensive Assessment Program, said the ranking system was so complex that he and his son had no choice but to ask for the advice of deities.
Hsieh also cited eight major problems of the entrance exam listed by the Alliance on Obligatory Education, including lack of information, puzzling rating system, insufficient time allowed for students to fill their school preference cards and a poorly designed grading system that categorizes test results into only three different levels.