Evaluating our students

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Evaluating our students

More elementary, middle and high schools are to conduct evaluations of their students’ performance starting this year. Several groups are planning to oppose this move.

Five organizations, including the Seoul office of the Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union and an organization of parents advocating egalitarianism-oriented education, have formed a civic group against student evaluation tests.

They’re planning outdoor activities for students on the days when the evaluations are scheduled to take place, Oct. 8, 14 and 15. They also plan to apply for provisional disposition to block the evaluations and to file a case with the National Human Rights Commission.

The evaluations aim to diagnose students’ performance levels and to map the curricula accordingly.

Deciding what to teach students is the first step in education. The evaluations will stimulate students to study harder and make teachers examine whether they are teaching the right things in the right way.

Opposing the evaluations is tantamount to demanding that education be stopped altogether.

The group argues that the evaluations will rank students and schools. That may happen as well. But it serves no purpose to hide differences when they exist. Evaluating reality and making efforts to narrow the gap is the best way to restore our education system.

This is why advanced countries evaluate the performance of their schools nationwide. In the United States, schools are ranked and the list is publicized. Schools that perform poorly are sometimes shut down.

Japanese elementary and middle school students are evaluated and the results are publicized.

The new organization must not ignore reality. It should end its collective action. Their efforts to stop the tests will only lower the quality of our education.

It is important that the evaluations lead to better student performance. Only then will the proponents of the plan be able to persuade their opponents.

The most urgent course of action is to provide education that suits students’ capacities. To do so, schools and teachers should be encouraged to compete against one another to provide better education.

The education authorities must find out why schools perform poorly and provide them with proper support to improve. This is the only way our education system will improve.
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