Exam changes heavily criticized

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Exam changes heavily criticized

Liberal groups expressed anger yesterday over yet another round of changes to the all-important college entrance exam just announced by the Ministry of Education.

The ministry in 2011 decided to split the English, Korean language and math segments of the College Scholastic Ability Test into an A test and a more difficult B test. But on Tuesday, the ministry reversed that call, saying it would go back to the old, unified system, starting with English in 2015 and then math and Korean language in 2017.

Haksamo, a left-leaning parents association, accused the education authority of making radical changes to the exam too frequently.

“We’ve seen too many reforms every time the administration changes,” the organization said in a statement. “The government said that the new plan would simplify the college entrance system, but the overhaul has only confused parents and students.”

Members of the opposition Democratic Party on the Education, Culture, Sports and Tourism Committee at the National Assembly slammed the latest education announcement.

“The government’s new plan won’t ease the burden on students and parents, but only aggravate the current situation with uncertainty,” the opposition committee members said in a statement.

However, others voiced a different view. The right-leaning Korean Federation of Teachers’ Associations said that the decision to move back to the old system is the right move.

“The idea of phasing out the two-version exam system is the right way to go,” the teachers’ association said.

However, the group also expressed concern over repeated, radical changes being made to the test.

“Too many changes at once can harm the reliability of policy makers and authorities,” the organization said.

Another major change announced Tuesday was the limiting of the number of admission standards a college can use on each year’s students, starting from 2015. But opposition groups asserted the new measure lacked specificity.

“The ministry said it will restrict the number of admission standards that a university can use, but it never mentioned how it would regulate universities,” the DP members wrote in their statement.

The recent reversion is only the latest example of the Education Ministry moving back and forth between policies.

In 2011, former Education Minister Lee Joo-ho said that the 2012 college entrance exam would be written in such a way that 1 percent of students would get a perfect score in each subject.

The aim was to help students by giving easier tests. But less than 1 percent of students achieved the perfect scores on the 2012 exam and the plan has since been scrapped.

A previous plan to grade the test on a scale of 1 to 9, instead of specific scores or percentiles, was abandoned after being tried once in 2008.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]

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