Tue, Sep 20, 2016 - Page 4 News List

Admissions system under fire

‘TWO-TRACK’:The system has failed to live up to hopes that earlier testing would give students more time to pursue elective courses in their final year, protesters said

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

The nation’s extended “two-track” college admissions system keeps students from focusing on their final year of high school, while making it difficult for teachers to design appropriate coursework, protesters said at a rally outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei yesterday.

“Even letting universities independently enroll students would be a better option than continuing to implement a half-baked version of the European and US admissions systems without resolving the incompleteness of students’ high-school education,” Alliance on Obligatory Education director-general Wang Li-sheng (王立昇) said.

High-school students take a broad General Scholastic Ability Test (GSAT) over the winter break during their final year, before going through an application process that is completed in May. Students also have the option of taking a narrower Assigned Subject Test after they graduate, with admissions tied directly to scores.

The application process was introduced several years ago in an attempt to reduce the relative importance of standardized testing during admissions, with the percentage of students admitted by taking the Assigned Subject Test gradually declining to about a third this year.

Wang said the system has failed to live up to promises that earlier testing would free high-school students to pursue elective coursework.

“Our hope was that high-school students who make rapid progress would be able to take college-level coursework, but instead what has happened is that colleges have had to begin offering a remedial bridge course, wasting resources and time,” Wang said.

GSAT content ensures that the first semester of a student’s final year is spent reviewing material from previous years, while the application process keeps them from focusing on coursework during the second, he said.

Teachers have trouble designing second-semester coursework because of different student objectives, National Senior High School Teachers’ Union director-general Huang Yao-nan (黃耀南) said.

“Some students are preparing their application materials, while others want to take the Assigned Subject Test and we end up getting caught in the middle,” he said.

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