Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling (蔣偉寧) yesterday said he was taking full responsibility for the public confusion over the recently held examinations for junior-high school students, but added that the important task at hand would be helping students pick a school rather than finger-pointing.
The ultimate goal of the Comprehensive Assessment Program, held last week across the country, is to implement standardized examinations and boost the number of examination-free slots for students to be admitted into schools.
The maximum score for the program is 90 points, with the “school preference section” taking up 30 points, general examination scores 30 points and extracurricular activities the remaining 30 points.
Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times
Based on the program, the general examination scores are mainly divided into three tiers (exceptional, normal and unsatisfactory), which are further divided into four ranking levels from “A++” to “C,” while the essay composition section has a separate ranking structure.
In the event of more students applying than the number of available slots at a particular school, priority is given to essay composition scores. Comparison using ranking levels is only used when there are still more students than the number of allotted slots after the initial process of comparison is completed.
However, parents and students from Keelung, Taipei and New Taipei City areas have complained about the heavy weight given to essay composition, which they say make it more difficult for students who have obtained good grades but average composition scores to be admitted to top schools.
They also demanded that the ministry explain reports that the Greater Kaohsiung area used comparison by ranking levels ahead of essay composition scores.
Taipei City Department of Education director Lin Yi-hua (林弈華) echoed the parents’ concerns, saying the ministry must give the public an explanation, as other townships and cities, including Hsinchu County, Miaoli County, Taitung County and the Greater Taichung-Nantou area, had adhered to the procedures outlined in the program.
Due to the public outcry, a Control Yuan committee said it might consider launching an investigation.
The essay composition scores becoming the crux of whether a student could enter one of the “star high schools” needs to be addressed by the Ministry of Education, the committee said.
Chiang said the central government would do its best to negotiate with the local governments and minimize problems for students, but now is not the time for finger-pointing.
“You have my word” that after the problems are dealt with, there will be a reckoning, Chiang said.
Meanwhile, education organizations called on the ministry to implement the spirit of the 12-year standard education program — to allow all students to attend school without taking examinations — and not to be hijacked by elitist parents and “star schools.”
The ministry should have learned its lesson and made adjustments where needed to exempt students from unnecessary examinations, said Gordon Hsieh (謝國清), chief executive of the National Alliance of Parents Organization’s 12-year compulsory education office.
Humanistic Education Foundation executive director Joanna Feng (馮喬蘭) said resources for high schools and vocational high schools must be equalized to increase educational opportunities for young people.
Ensuring a sufficient number of student admission slots for each area will ease parental anxiety and protect children’s right to education, Feng said.
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