Sun, Jul 10, 2016 - Page 3 News List

School admission reform sought

COOKING QUEST:A teachers’ association official said that many students seek a culinary education after their parents tell them that they could cook for themselves

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Parents at an education forum yesterday called for reforms to high-school admission procedures, while principals and teachers said that better information needs to be provided regarding differences between schools.

Twelve-Year Compulsory Education Parental Alliance director Chen Kuo-tso (陳國祚) said that there should be more scope on application forms for students to choose their preferred schools so that the number of students who fail to gain admission to any school is reduced.

The forms provide space for students to fill in sets of five schools, with different sets being used based on the student’s exam scores.

“We hope the preference sets can be expanded to include 20 schools in each group so we can be more at ease and fill out preferences based on what we really want,” Chen said, adding that students with lower test scores need to be more precisely reflected in admission formulas, while schools should provide data showing the minimum grades required to gain admission to them.

The admissions formulas were introduced in 2014 as part of broader reforms to implement compulsory 12-year education, with the formulas aimed at reducing the role of standardized testing.

While the formulas only included a rough approximation of standardized test scores, the Ministry of Education has increased the importance of test scores following protests from parents, while it has reduced the significance of school preference.

Shilin High School of Commerce principal Tseng Teng-lung (曾騰瀧) said that roughly 800 out of more than 53,000 students failed to gain admission into any high school this year, mostly because they did not fill out the preference list in full.

“Most of the students who failed to gain admission to any school did not fill out enough preferences, not even completing the first set of five,” Tseng said, adding that expanding preference sets would see students facing more competition.

“The more schools there are in a preference set, the more opportunities any one student has, but more schools also necessarily entails more competition from at least several hundred and possibly even several thousand other students,” he said, adding that the Ministry of Education should make public more information about individual schools, including minimum admission scores.

“The ministry should not hide information, which forces parents to choose schools based on some abstract value,” he said.

Taipei Teachers’ Association president Ho Chun-yan (何俊彥) said that while the government has not provided minimum admissions scores in a bid to encourage parents and students to consider factors other than test scores when filling out school preferences, parents and students are often unclear about characteristics that set schools apart.

“In my 10 years of counseling students, I have run into many students who want to go to a vocational school to get culinary education, but when I ask them why, they tell me it is because their parents have told them that if they get culinary training, at least they will be able to cook for themselves,” Ho said.

Parents and students need to be provided with better information about their options, he said.

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