[EDITORIALS] A Failed College Entrance System

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[EDITORIALS] A Failed College Entrance System

Students preparing for college, their parents, and schools are said to be disconcerted by the new college entrance system that goes into effect beginning this year. They complain that the educational level of high school seniors of the so called "Lee Hai-chan" generation has dropped substantially and rolling admissions to universities will start this year.

The government announced the new admission system in 1998 with the objective of selecting a diverse pool of students. The new system favors special skills and talents, confining the use of college scholastic aptitude test scores to setting a qualification benchmark by categorizing applicants into nine ranks instead of using the raw scores. Government officials in charge of education had claimed that in three years, when the ninth grade students become seniors, "it would be possible for students to enter college with only one special skill." However, what is the present reality? Little has changed and in the end, the new system only has resulted in the government inflating groundless hopes in students and dragging the country's education to lower standards.

The confusion was predicted. A survey conducted by the Korean Educational Development Institute, involving 25,000 teachers, students and their parents from elementary through high school, on education policies and tasks supports the prediction. In the survey, 75.4 percent of all teachers responded that the new college entrance system would only make matters worse for education. The respondents also said that the new system would not help reduce private tutoring expenses, alleviate the cut-throat college entrance competition, nor normalize public education.

The government should move quickly to take complementary measures. Cases of certificate and award falsification to qualify for the special skill criterion, on top of inflated grades, have been reported. The Education Ministry should concentrate its energy on preventing fraud and on monitoring the college scholastic aptitude test, and entrust the rest of the selection criteria, such as grades and special talents and skills, to the free will and discretion of individual universities.
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