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Conflicts Emerge from New Grading System

Posted June. 14, 2007 07:26,   


Starting in 2009, the grading system for middle and high school students will change from the current relative evaluation-based one that incorporates five grades to an absolute one based on three categories, which will be applied to music, art and physical education. The Ministry of Education & Human Resources announced the new system on Wednesday. The release of the news prompted mixed responses from parents and teachers. Although parents supported the new proposal, the Korean Teachers & Educational Workers’ Union and the teachers of those subjects did not.

New evaluation system-

The Ministry of Education decided to state grades on student records under three categories: excellent for grades 80-100, average for 60-79, and unsatisfactory for under 60. Under the current grading system, middle school students are ranked by their percentile rank in various subjects and evaluated in five categories; high school students’ records are divided by nine grades, original scores, average scores on each subject, and the standard deviation. The ministry said that it will instruct teachers to give detailed narrative assessments when grading students in order to supplement the new evaluation method. The new system and plans will be officially notified in July.

An official said, “Originally, the ministry planned to implement a new evaluation system based on absolute assessments from 2010, but eventually decided to advance the introduction of the new system a year in preparation for the increases in class time for arts and physical subjects. This is aimed at reducing the academic burden while stemming private tutoring for arts and physical education subjects.

Support for arts and physical education-

The ministry has plans to provide financial support of 20 billion won a year for five years from 2011 to 16 educational offices at the municipal and regional levels in an attempt to promote the education environment. The offices of education will allow each school to equip itself with new music and arts facilities and purchase teaching materials by using allocated government budget money.

In addition, it will also discuss with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism plans to build a special school for youth talented in arts. It will consider plan to deploy about 2,000 arts instructors hired by the 26 district culture & arts training centers, including ones for Korean classic music, to teach in elementary and secondary schools.

Opposition from teachers in these fields-

The Korean Teachers’ Union held a press conference in Seoul on Monday to argue that the new measure is deplorable in that it will eventually hamper arts education in Korea’s competitive entrance exam-centered environment.

The four professors from the council for arts and physical education interrupted the press conference and shouted “The new measure is just a sham which has failed to reflect experts’ opinion.” In response to this argument, a government official countered, saying, “Parents and teachers welcomed the measure as a new way to provide professional as well as interesting education to students.”