Don’t fool students again

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Don’t fool students again

 A Seoul court ordered the administrator of the national College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) to suspend confirmation on an answer in the bioscience section in this year’s test a day before it was to announce and hand out the results of the test to each exam-taker. The delay is the first since the CSAT was introduced in 1994. Many of the 6,515 who took the bioscience test will not be getting their test result on time, delaying the enrollment process starting this week.

When the question is deemed erroneous as challenged by the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, the score average could rise by 1.5 points. Since the bioscience test is usually taken by applicants for medical schools, a final decision from the court to be made on Friday could affect a number of students. The bench ordered the suspension to prevent “irreparable damage.”

The test administrator — the Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation (KICE) — is largely at fault for causing the confusion. Test-takers immediately found fault with question No. 20 in the bioscience section. The question asked students to find the correct answer to an explanation about three theories. But the explanation itself had fallacy. Nearly all teachers found the question erroneous.

KICE admitted the given explanation had not been clear. Still, it kept by its answer, arguing the question could help distinguish the academic levels even if the condition had not been perfect. KICE dealt with the matter lightly because the number of the test-takers was not so great.

In the 2015 national test, the administrator admitted to an error after phrasing the correct answer to an English section question as “an 18 percent gain” when the percentage increased from 2 percent to 20 percent. The question should have referred to an increase of “18 percentage points.” If KICE admitted to the fallacy for the question, it should have taken a more discreet approach to the problem.

But KICE defended its answer while keeping the opinion anonymous, raising questions about its credibility. Despite the planned announcement by the court in the afternoon, KICE went on with its procedure to announce the test results, without readying for a possible suspension.

KICE must seek out opinions of credible experts who can publicly declare their views. In the 2014 test, an error was admitted on a world geography section a year later after an appeals court reached a ruling. The harm had already been done. The mistake must not be repeated.
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