[EDITORIAL] Curtail High School Grade Inflation

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[EDITORIAL] Curtail High School Grade Inflation

It has come to light that grade inflation in some high schools has gone beyond an acceptable level in a bid to give students an edge for college admission. According to Korea University's analysis of the three-year academic records at 389 high schools demonstrating superior performance on College Scholastic Ability Tests out of the 1,847 schools nationwide, the ratio of A's in the graduating class has increased annually, from 17.7 percent in the 1999 academic year, to 19.1 percent in 2000, and to 23.19 percent in 2001. In a high school located in Kyonggi province, 53.12 percent of the graduating class received A's. In 1999, only five schools gave A's to more than half of their students, but the number is on the rise: In 2000, 17 schools fell into this category, and in 2001, 23 schools.

In September last year, the Ministry of Education spotted 122 cases of extreme grade inflation in 106 high schools, or 7.1 percent of 1,488 high schools nationwide. It issued cautions or warnings to 158 school headmasters and teachers. The problem is that such practices have not stopped despite disciplinary measures. Teachers explain that this state of affairs is unavoidable because universities treat all high school transcripts equally regardless of academic differences between schools. Furthermore, many parents complain when teachers give difficult tests. They vent their anger saying, "Why do our children's school give harder tests than other schools?"

Some universities start selecting students from the first semester of the senior year, intensifying competition for good marks. The CSAT has long lost the ability of assessing the test takers' by producing high scores in droves. Yet, the education authorities prohibit universities from having their own written tests, sticking to the policy of "easy CSATs." Given the trend that universities admit more students year-round, the importance of school records has grown. With easy CASTs and enhanced academic records, what standards can universities adopt to choose their students? The education authorities must tighten supervision over high school grades and at the same time strengthen the CSAT's discriminative aspects. Ultimately, universities should get back full authority in admitting their students.
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