What to make of abolition of performance reviewsOn April 23, a plan to abolish the academic achievement evaluation in elementary school was announced. The evaluation was criticized for excessive pressure on students, excessive competition between educational institutions and relative negligence on physical, character and creative education. Another criticism pointed out that schools and teachers are responsible for the evaluation result when parents, boards of education and the Ministry of Education are also accountable for student performance. However, abolishing the evaluation does not resolve the problems. Now, we need to predict the consequences and prepare detailed plan for educational accountability.
First, the Ministry of Education, boards of education, teachers and parents should work together to create scientific standards and methods to comprehensively measure developmental process and performance outcomes in various areas, including physical, character and basic academic skills. The basic academic ability guarantee policy at municipal and provincial board of education level is not enough. If the direction of educational policy is set without basic information, it would be inefficient and ineffective.
Second, the Ministry of Education should not directly address the performance of each school but recognize each local educational autonomous organization’s right to choose. The local residents should have the power to ask their local board of education accountable. The system to secure accountability of local board of education is considered failing. Through proper investigation, necessary data should be collected, and additional support should be given to improve organizational capacity of regions and schools.
Third, measuring the performance in various fields is already possible technologically, so each board of education needs to make more delicate individual approach. Some schools are considered capable of being accountable for their performance with professional operation and staffing. Individual standards can be prepared if parents demand them. Then, the system should be implemented so that each school takes responsibility.
Fourth, schools and teachers need to be able to demonstrate professional and autonomous accountability. In a democratic society, all public agencies, including schools, are accountable for their own business performances. Instead of performance evaluation, an autonomous and systematic data to prove educational outcome should be provided to the parents and society.
Fifth, we need to consider how to motivate the students. Schools should inspire students to grow with the joy of learning, not pressure of tests. Professionalism and efforts of the teachers are necessary. Just as Bill Gates and many Nobel laureates emphasized, creativity does not come from your smarts but from efforts. Patient learning and exploration is a habit that should begin early on. While academic excellence does not guarantee success, it is hard to realize individual success in any area without basic academic skills. Schools and parents must work together to help the children build good study habits, which will make them life-long learners.
Last, not just the educational authorities but also industries, civic groups and the government need to actively participate in educational issues. Instead of avoiding responsibility and criticizing one another, every entity needs to take a part in establishing a new system of accountability. North Dakota’s roundtable system that induce involvement and devotion of each group is a case we need to benchmark to resolve our educational issues.
It depends on all of us whether the abolition of the academic performance evaluation is a beginning of new problems or new possibilities. If we just criticize without participating in resolving the issues, we may be the one who are creating these problems.
*Park Nam-gi, Professor at Gwangju National University of Education