Posted September. 01, 2008 04:07,
Elementary and middle school students in Japan who watch less television and are taught by enthusiastic teachers excelled in the national student assessment in April, the Yomiuri Shimbun said Saturday.
The Japanese government tested 2.24 million sixth and ninth graders nationwide in the second year of the test since its resumption last year after 43 years of suspension.
While the national average score declined, Akita, Fukui and Toyama prefectures dominated the top three spots in most subjects.
The newspaper cited a heavy load of homework, frequent supplementary lessons and highly enthusiastic teachers as characteristics distinctively shared by these three prefectures.
In Toyama, almost all elementary and middle schools have teachers associations conducting curricular research and other related activities. Most teachers in Akita also take part in subject-specific training sessions, devoting themselves to curricular research.
Akita was No. 1 in applied Japanese and applied arithmetic in elementary school both this year and last year. The secret to its success is believed to be small classes of under 30 students and differentiated curricula for students of varying academic levels.
The national assessment also found out that student lifestyle, such as the number of hours spent on watching TV, greatly affected academic performance.
For instance, students watching television less than one hour a day performed the best with an average score of 69 points in basic Japanese among sixth graders. Those who watched television for one to two hours daily scored an average 68 points; two to three hours 67 points; three to four hours 65.4 points; and more than four hours 61.4 points.
The average score of students who abstain from television was 64.7 points.
In applied Japanese, the average score of elementary school students without cell phones was 6.7 points higher than those used them daily.
The average score of students who said they tell what is going on in school to their family and have breakfast was 9-26 points higher than those who do not.