[Letters] Standardized test distorts education
I strongly disagree with “Where teachers belong” [Editorial, April 2], which expresses a deep concern about unionized teachers protesting the national scholastic achievement assessment, ilje gosa, a standardized aptitude test. It is high time we listen to why unionized teachers and parents who are with the teachers oppose the test so strongly and to consider how negatively the results of the test have affected public and private education after it was implemented nationwide.
It is no mystery why our education has been suffering from overheated competition, heavily dependent on private education. Even without the national assessment, schools have already been ranked according to where students live.
There is a sarcastic saying that apartment size determines students’ grades at schools. Under the circumstances, the nationwide test just increases dependency on private education since parents would stop at nothing to have their children get higher scores on the test. School districts and principals are more likely to push teachers to produce better scores on this standardized test. Accordingly, the goal of education would be severely distorted in the process of pursuing favorable results in the standardized test.
One other big problem is that the standardized test administered by the government has many limitations in assessing students’ strengths and weaknesses [as a reference] in designing future curricula. It is easier to promote uniform education through the test rather than encouraging creativity based on pluralism.
In order to know students’ strengths and weaknesses, a variety of exam instruments should be used over longer time horizons, allowing flexibility in the curriculum at the level of individual schools.
If our goal is for education to get students ready for a rapidly changing society in the 21st century, the [standardized] test assessing how correctly students reproduce given knowledge should be replaced with a test of how much they put in their efforts to be creative and independent thinkers.
Nam Hyun-ha, middle school teacher
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