Do Not Experiment with Our Educational System
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
July 15, 2011
The Taipei Xinbei Keelung Senior High School Joint Entrance Examination has been held for the first time. The "high scores, low achievement" phenomenon, and the "second round admissions" process have provoked ongoing discontent. Some parents are demanding that the government compensate them for applicants' second round admissions, The Control Yuan will investigate, Some people even think the exam might influence the outcome of the 2012 election. How should one solve this problem? Should Taipei, Xinbei, and Keelung increase the number of applicants admitted? For the answer, we must await the results of the second round admissions process on the 15th of this month.
The Taipei Xinbei Keelung Senior High School Joint Entrance Examination has provoked a major uproar. One reason is that the threshold for admission to certain schools are inappropriate. Another is that Taipei City educational institutions are technically deficient. But the core problem is widespread preconceptions about the ranking of high schools on Taiwan. The Taipei Xinbei Keelung Senior High School Joint Entrance Examination may help promote 12 year national compulsory education. If the 12 year national compulsory education reforms are to succeed, one of the keys will be the attitude of parents, applicants, high schools, and particularly elite high schools.
The motives behind the Taipei Xinbei Keelung Senior High School Joint Entrance Examination were good. The exam reduces applicant anxiety. Taipei City, Xinbei City, and Keelung County launched a '“one guideline, one textbook, joint examination." This differed from the “one guideline, multiple textbooks” national examination. The Taipei Xinbei Keelung Senior High School Joint Entrance Examination offers examination-free admissions. On the basis of Basic Competency Test results, applicants may apply for admission, select their school, and register. But the Taipei Xinbei Keelung Senior High School Joint Entrance Examination this year was more difficult. Applicants' average scores fell. Senior high schools based admissions on past performance. Either that, or they hoped to attract better students through higher scores. As a result, this year some Taipei Xinbei Keelung high schools set higher thresholds for admission. This led to the so-called "high scores, low achievement" problem.
Once the admissions process was over, schools proceeded with second phase registration and enrollment. Some candidates learned that because their admission scores were higher than their previous grades, the same score, would not have enabled them to enter a school during first round admissions, but would have during second round admissions. First round applicants and parents were extremely unhappy, They chose schools with lower scores. Had they applied using the applicant's previous grades, they might have gotten into a higher ranking school.
The Taipei Xinbei Keelung "high scores, low achievement" phenomenon has been a source of constant controversy. Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin decided to solve the problem by means of a "second round admissions" process. Taipei, Xinbei, and Keelung have allocated over 2000 places to applicants who consider themselves victims of the "high score, low achievement" phenomenon. By doing so, Taipei, Xinbei, and Keelung have pleased one party only to displease another. Applicants with "high scores, low achievements" hope to get into a higher ranking school. But the results of second round admissions could impact students retaking the Basic Competency Tests. The places remaining after the Taipei Xinbei Keelung admissions process, would have gone to students retaking the Basic Competency Tests. The Taipei Xinbei Keelung second round of admissions may use up some of those places. They may reduce opportunities for students retaking the Basic Competency Tests. Some students retaking the Basic Competency Tests and their parents are extremely angry. They feel the system must not sacrifice them in order to look after the Taipei Xinbei Keelung students victimized by the "high scores, low achievement" phenomenon. .
Students interested in participating in the second round admissions process must apply today. How serious is the problem? How will it impact students retaking the Basic Competency Tests? We will know soon enough. Should we use the so-called "additional places, extra students" approach? We will know only after second round admissions are complete. Perhaps the matter will not be as serious as some students and their parents anticipate.
Nevertheless, the Taipei Xinbei Keelung Senior High School Joint Entrance Examination has already angered many. If handled improperly, it could indeed lead to political confronation. Will the Taipei Xinbei Keelung Senior High School Joint Entrance Examination be continued next year? That is not Hau Lung-bin's decision. Education has long been a difficult problem. Education impacts those directly involved. It also impacts human resources and national development. Political parties may replace one another. But education must endure. The fact is that when those in charge of education are replaced, policies are often changed along with them. As a result, children on Taiwan have become white mice. This has caused students and parents no end of suffering.
In 2014 the government will implement 12-year national compulsory education. It hopes to implement high school and rural community-based studies. it hopes to distribute educational resources more evenly, and to reduce the burden on students. But given the problems caused by the Taipei Xinbei Keelung Senior High School Joint Entrance Examination, one cannot help worrying. Won't 12 year national compulsory education and examination-free admissions collide head on with everyone's desire to get into elite schools with high admissions scores? The elite high school magnet effect must be reduced. This will take longer than education officials imagine. Do those in charge understand this? Education is not something one can experiment with. It is not something that can be attained in a single bound, The consequences of experimentation may have no end. No matter how good one's intentions, poor execution will have a negative impact. Let the firestorm over the Taipei Xinbei Keelung Senior High School Joint Entrance Examination serve as a warning.