Guideline to remedy high school woes

The Ministry of Education issued an evaluation guideline for high schools on Monday that aims to reform the exam-oriented education system and promote the all-around development of students.

The new guideline bans school-organized tutoring classes on public holidays and during summer and winter vacations and requires schools to properly arrange their daily schedules to make sure students have enough sleep.

Schools should strictly stick to the national curriculum and not change the schedule and difficulty of courses at will, the guideline said, noting that new classes should not end before the last semester of high school.

To make sure students perform well in the crucial national college entrance exam, or gaokao, it is common for high schools to finish all new classes before the last year and spend at least one year on gaokao preparation.

High schools should offer students relief from excessive academic burdens by controlling the amount of homework, limiting the number of tests and not releasing students’ rankings in the exam, it said.

They should not evaluate teachers based on their students’ gaokao performance and enrollment rate at good universities, the guideline said.

Students should enjoy at least one hour of physical exercise every day at school and master one to three sports skills and one to two art skills in high school, it said.

They should also actively participate in household chores, and other labor activities in and outside of the school, and develop respect and love for manual labor and hardworking spirits, it added.

An official from the ministry’s department of basic education said there are some key problems in the evaluation of high schools that the guideline wants to remedy.

For example, high schools are currently evaluated solely on students’ gaokao scores and enrollment rates at good universities. Students’ exam performances are much more important than other skills and the final gaokao scores also have much more weighting in students’ evaluations than their usual performances, the official said.

Chen Zhiwen, editor-in-chief of online education portal EOL, said the guideline is part of ongoing national efforts in education evaluation reform, which aim to redirect attention from students’ academic abilities to their qualities.

The ministry has said it is conducting research on adding physical education evaluation results in the gaokao to increase the importance of PE courses for high school students.

However, such evaluation should not be difficult and most students are supposed to get high scores after some training, so as not to add a new burden, Chen said.

The purpose of the gaokao PE test should be to encourage students to spend more time on physical training, not to differentiate them from each other, he added.

Author: Zou Shuo, Chinadaily

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