High school seniors are anxious as the new semester is delayed for another week due to the resurgence of COVID-19. They already lost half of the semester, which gives them a handicap compared to retakers of the annual college entrance exam. To make matters worse, the Ministry of Education is fanning the anxiety by delaying the semester five times without providing the schedule of the exam.
“We could stick to the adjusted schedule if our students go back to school before late May,” said Vice Education Minister Park Baek-beom when he announced another delay. This means the schedule should be readjusted if students cannot go back to school within May. The cluster infection started from Itaewon clubs in Seoul is projected to be prolonged, and the Ministry of Education must find a plan B in case that students cannot go to school for the entire semester. It should reduce uncertainty by quickly announcing the assessment methods and exam schedule in detail.
The academic assessment method of the first semester is garnering the most attention. Academic reports of the last semester in high school are not reflected in the rolling admission, which recruits 67 percent of the students. High schools planned to hold a mid-term exam in early June if students go back to school on Wednesday. But some suggest replacing the exam with performance assessment or combining the mid-term exam with the final exam. The Ministry of Education said school principals can decide on the academic schedule including exams, but changing assessment methods can give some students an advantage and others a disadvantage. To reduce confusion and improve fairness, the ministry should establish the framework of academic assessment.
It also needs to provide the same opportunities to high school seniors as exam retakers. Students preparing for the rolling admission are having a hard time filling in their academic reports. To minimize disadvantages for students who have less opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities due to the virus, the weighted ratio of those activities should be adjusted. The range of the College Scholastic Aptitude Test (CSAT) could be adjusted for high school seniors who have less time to study in school due to the delays.
Disadvantages coming from the delays affect students differently. Some students have finished preparing for the mid-term and are not preparing for the CSAT at a cram school. University admissions could make or break students’ lives. The ministry should help students in remote areas who cannot have private education talk with school counselors and prepare for exams by allowing students to go to school separately by cities in case that it decides on another delay.