[Viewpoint]New ‘lottery’ test grading a failure

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[Viewpoint]New ‘lottery’ test grading a failure

The hearts of parents of senior high school students who recently took the College Scholastic Ability Test must be aching.
It’s painful for them if their children did not fare well, but nothing can be done. There is nothing to say to the children except, “Don’t be devastated. The university you attend is not the end of your life,” and pat the child on the back.
However, this is not what makes students, parents and even teachers go half-crazy. Instead, it is the grading system for the test being implemented this year.
Based on a difference of only one point, students can get a different grade. Therefore, it is hard for them to decide where to apply. Moreover, there is no way to find out their grades until next month.
Therefore, all they can do is apply here and there and wait. Teachers are having a hard time because they do not know what to tell their students. Meanwhile, the essay classes at the private educational institutes are full of students, because a tiny difference in the score on an essay test will decide the students’ university admissions, as many students will get the same CSAT grade.
The basis of every public policy should be fairness and predictability. Needless to say, the same tenets should be the basis of the education policy for our children, who are our future. The CSAT grading system runs against these principles. In two words, the new system is like a lottery game.
The grading system is not fair. For instance, if 92 points or above constitutes grade 1, all scores between 92 and 100 are that grade. With only a one-point difference, a 91-point score belongs to grade 2.
A student, who gets a total of 276 points by getting 92 points in one subject, 92 points on another subject and 92 points in the third subject, receives a higher grade than a student with 291 points by getting 100 points, 100 points and 91 points in the respective subjects. We now have to tell our children, “Doing okay in every subject is the shortcut to success.” This type of education cannot produce geniuses in any certain field.
Next is predictability. Obviously, there is no predictability, since the grade of a student can change with a difference of only one point.
No matter how hard one may advocate it, I think the new system is a failure. Despite the claim the use of private tutors would decrease, students have to crowd into essay classes at private educational institutes.
On top of that, the new system has made it difficult for the teachers to guide their students. Therefore, the criticism that the authority of schools has failed is not valid.
This outrageous system was created by the Presidential Advisory Commission on Education Innovation in August 2004.
Chun Seong-eun, the principal of Saetbyeol Middle School, chaired the commission and Professor Kim Min-nam of Kyungpook National University was among the participants.
The commission’s original goal was to break the ranking system of the universities. Ultimately, the committee wanted to abolish the CSAT and allow students to enter universities on the basis of their accomplishments in school alone. The CSAT grading system was introduced because the test could not be abolished right away. The idea was that universities would end up selecting students on the basis of their school records if the scholastic ability test was made more ineffective.
In other words, it was an egalitarian education policy of the liberals who belong to the 386 group.
A university professor who opposed the proposal made by the presidential education innovation commission said the commission insisted on a five-level grading system, but a nine-level grading system was adopted thanks to persistent opposition from Ahn Byung-young, then the education minister. It is terrifying to think what confusion there would have been if a five-level grading system had been introduced.
This strange university admission system has to go on for at least a few more years, because a notice has to be made three years in advance to change the university entrance system. President Roh Moo-hyun finishes his term in February of next year. The commission that has made this “innovative” system has already been dissolved, and the people who have led the commission have all gone away. Students and parents, who had to face difficulties this year, might be able to forget about them as time goes by. However it is ever more frustrating to think of the fact that this stupidity will repeat again and again in coming years.

*The writer is the senior city news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Kim Chong-hyuk
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