New English test seems like a big waste of public funds
The Hankyoreh (September 12, 2012)
Since Lee Myung-bak took office in 2008, the government of South Korea has invested close to 30 billion won ($26 million) in The National English Assessment Test (NEAT), an English language test that is expected to replace American tests like the TOEIC or TOEFL in the university entrance system beginning in 2013; however, serious questions have been raised by Rep. Yu Gui-hong of the Democratic United Party from the Ministry of Education and Science as to whether NEAT has been effective and reliable.
Students sit a trial version of the National English Aptitude Test at a school in southern Seoul. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)
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National English Assessment Test (NEAT)
Universities to add Natoinal English Ability Test to admissions
Baillieu plan to get rid of bad teachers
Topsfield, J. The Age
(21 June 2012)
Under a plan to be released for consultation entitled “New directions for school leadership and the teaching profession,” the Victorian State government plans to amongst other things, sack the worst 5 percent of teachers. According to the plan, principals often view the process of firing teachers as burdensome: ”This [current] process [of firing teachers] seldom results in the departure of the teacher and there is a strong perception among principals that it is cumbersome, lengthy and overly complex.” The plan’s other controversial suggestions include “teachers doing extra days of professional development during school holidays, teachers of hard-to-staff subjects such as maths and science earning more money and principals coming from professions other than teaching.” The intent behind the plans is to enable Victorian students to match the performance of students in places like Finland and Shanghai on international assessment tests, like PISA, in a decade.
‘No detention’ policy works
Thomas, L. The Hindu
(18 May 2012)
The “no detention policy” in the Right to Education (RTE) Act “is one clause [of the act] that a majority of the teachers resent. It states that until class VIII, no child can be held back or expelled from school.” Teachers believe the policy creates a “lackadaisical” mindset in their students, for the students have developed, in the teachers’ opinion, an attitude of “why study when there’s no fear of failing?” RTE was enacted because of India’s extraordinarily high drop-out right, but “blindly following the ‘no detention policy’ will not help. Schools must offer bridge course for slow learners, but there is little focus on that. Classes with large student strength also make it difficult for teachers to offer extra care and attention to slow learners.” Still, teachers find the “no detention” policy problematic, as some students are having difficulties passing examinations.
Principals warned off test boycott
Topsfield, J. The Age
(15 May 2012)
Principals have been warned not to encourage students to boycott NAPLAN, the standardized tests for Years 3, 5, 7, and 9 in reading, writing, language conventions, and numeracy. Opposition to the test has been building, as groups like Say No to NAPLAN have expressed concerns about the examinations. The move to boycott by principals takes advantage of provisions in the program that “the tests are not compulsory and parents have the right to withdraw their children on the grounds of philosophical objections or religious beliefs.” The testing authority’s response to this tactic: “Parents do have the right to withdraw their children from the tests, but we emphasise that principals are not to actively encourage students not to participate,” adding that ”we would consider that quite inappropriate for obvious reasons.”
Governor of Austrian province suggests including PISA results in students’ general grades
(17 April 2012)
In order to increase student motivation for PISA tests, Josef Pühringer, the Governor of the Province of Upper Austria, suggests including PISA test results in students’ general grades. He believes this would lead to higher test scores because the problem with Austria’s PISA results, in his view, is one of student motivation rather than weak student knowledge and competences. (Find more about Austria’s performance on PISA in relation to other nations here and here.)
Fuss over a standardized school leaving exam
(10 March 2012)
Austria will introduce a reform to standardize the important Grade 12 school leaving exam (known as the Matura) which allows students to enroll in universities. The reform increases the minimum passing grade to answering 60 percent of the test correctly. The minimum passing score had been 50 percent. Because of the higher minimum passing grade, many students have failed the exam pre-test. Teachers are also protesting the law, insisting that it reduces their freedom in examining their students. The Ministry of Education, however, argues that the reform will ensure quality, objectivity, fairness and comparability to the Matura.