[EDITORIALS]Ranking high schoolsAn inquiry by the Education Ministry revealed that Korea, Yonsei and Ewha Womans universities applied a high school ranking system in the year-round student screening process. The Korea Teachers and Education Workers Union and parents’ groups have demanded sanctions against these universities, and the Ministry of Education said it would seek preventive measures and reduce financial support to the schools.
The responsibility for applying a high school ranking system must not lie solely with the universities. The fundamental reason that brought about this controversy lies in limiting the application materials to school records, a self-assessment essay, teachers’ recommendations, prize-winning achievements and volunteer activities. Limiting application materials is something that cannot be found in the education systems of other advanced nations in the world. In order for universities to select superior students that suit their schools, a diverse range of application data is essential. In a situation where universities cannot choose the screening method, it is the inherent discretionary right of universities to apply the application materials in whatever way they wish. The same goes for high school academic records. How can colleges trust these records when high schools inflate grades?
We must recognize that universities try hard to assess students fairly based on what they receive in the applications. How unfair is it for a low-performing student whose grades have been inflated to get the same kind of treatment as high-performing students?
High schools and teachers who inflate grades in student records carry the responsibility for the problem. Despite the standardization of high schools, we cannot ignore the differences in academic performance among regions and schools, but the universities must use a more elaborate process of comparing individual competency based on essay tests and interviews. Also, the universities must complement the student screening process by setting minimum quotas of students from rural or poor areas. In order to stop the discrimination debate, schools must use a transparent admissions process. There is no single college entrance method that everyone will be satisfied with. But there is an important principle here. It is to give the right to select students to the universities that will educate them.