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State-run Standardized Test

By Hyoyeol Chong

Regarding the State-run standardized test carried out by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology on July 13, conflict between the central government and local education offices has arisen. This test was once abolished under liberal governments, but has been re-introduced by the Lee Myung-bak administration. The nations’ Progressive Teachers’ union and parent groups have protested this test claiming that it could rank schools, which brings unnecessary competition among students and schools through performance. Furthermore, the government has taken firm action on those who choose not to take the exam.

Since last October, a total of 14 teachers were fired from schools due to their opposition to the test. In addition, about 330 students boycotted the tests last year. Both claim that, like England, the government has to let schools decide whether they choose to take the test to protect rights of students and teachers.

The Jeollabuk-do Office of Education sent a letter to the federal government stating that, unless they have a valid reason, the head of education offices should comply with the removal of standardized assessments under Primary and Secondary Education Law. However, the ministry sent an official warning letter to the Jeollabuk-do Office of Education, stating that other exams or programs aiming to replace or invalidate the test are against education Law. The ministry said that students who skip their exams, whether intentionally or not, will be punished. Also, teachers who let their students abstain from the test are to face punishment as well. This test has also restricted the mobility rights of students as they cannot go abroad during the test period lest they face punishment.

One of the officials of the provincial office in charge of the assessment stated that, “We never discourage students from taking the standardized test. We’ve just requested schools to offer alternative programs for those who don’t want the test.” A teacher said that, “Some school principals are following the ministry’s guidelines too rigidly. They need to adopt them flexibly depending on each student’s individual situation. This rigid observation is resulting in clashes between some parents and schools.”

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Categories: Education
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