In future, no curve for scoring of English CSAT

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In future, no curve for scoring of English CSAT

The new education minister announced yesterday that ranking of English scores on the university entrance exam will be stopped to take pressure off students and reduce spending on private English lessons.

Since 1993, the ministry has done relative grading, or ranking, on the English section of the country’s College Scholastic Ability Test, or CSAT, which will be replaced with absolute grading. With absolute grading, it’s much more difficult to figure out the ranking of students because their scores are not revealed.

“We are having in-depth discussions on how to change the evaluation system for CSAT’s English section,” said Education Minister Hwang Woo-yea, who was sworn in earlier this month. “We have doubts about the consequences of putting excessive emphasis on private English education for the last several decades, and normalizing the overly difficult English studies is one of the current government’s priorities.”

“However, given that a sudden change in the system will have a big impact on students and parents, we are working on engineering a ‘soft landing,’” Hwang added. The change is expected to be made in 2018 or later.

Critics say taking the pressure off students will lead to a decline in English proficiency.

“We shouldn’t require all students to speak English as well as English linguists or experts,” Hwang said. “If we keep ranking them, we can’t stop people from spending too much money to have their children remain in the top 4 percent [or the first grade].”

Critics also say that if English testing gets easier, students will put more effort - and spend more money on cram schools - in subjects such as Korean and mathematics.

The Ministry of Education has already said that CSAT English tests will be much easier from now on. In a mock test in June, 5.4 percent of examinees, the highest ever, received perfect scores. Those who got all questions right stayed in the first grade and those who got one question wrong were put in the second out of nine grades.

BY YOON SEOK-MAN [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]



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