No standardized tests, no written homework, no tracking. These are some of the new actions China is taking to lessen student academic burden. The Chinese Ministry of Education released Ten Regulations to Lessen Academic Burden for Primary School Students this week for public commentary. The Ten Regulations are introduced as one more significant measure to reform China’s education, in addition to further reduction of academic content, lowering the academic rigor of textbooks, expanding criteria for education quality, and improving teacher capacity.
More information was posted by Yong Zhao at Education Week
China has been held as an example of a high performing education system and a model worth imitating (e.g., a call for longer school days and years). But, the Chinese apparently think otherwise. They have been eager to be rid of the primary factor contributing to their outstanding test scores and the very aspect of education that Western countries are eager to borrow. The reason is very simple: The Chinese have seen enough damage done by an overemphasis on testing and academic work on creativity, innovation, and student psychological and physical well-being.
The second lesson comes from the difficulty of moving away from a testing culture once it takes root. In China, test scores determine a student’s life–scores in primary schools determine which middle school a student can attend; scores in middle school determine which high school a student can go to; and scores at the end of high school, the infamous College Entrance Exam or Gaokao, determine which college a student can attend, if at all, and such a decision also determines one’s future career and social status. Consequently, tests dominate a child’s life and by association, the reputation of a school and teachers.
Although I do disagree with some of these commandments (such as minimizing supplemental materials, but I don’t know what is a supplemental material). The “no homework” commandment is intriguing also.