A Guest Article by Donna Scott on Education Reform


In this site and elsewhere I often discuss education reform in the world and in Japan because it is the most important policy issue of Japan and the world.  Frequent visitors to this site understand my points and views well.

Recently, I received a message from Donna Scott, who asked if I would consider a guest article. Obviously, she is involved with new types of educational system, ie, <onlineschool.net> as below;


So I replied ‘why not?’

Below is her essay with a timely topics at the time of Lower House election of Japan, ‘New Party Could Mean Changes in Educational Testing’. (Full text is also copied below)

Your thoughts? And get involved in the connecting world.


New Party Could Mean Changes in Educational Testing

The Democratic Party of Japan has stated that if it wins the upcoming election it would make some changes to the current educational system. Announced Monday, the party would drastically scale back the national achievement examinations given to students in their sixth year of elementary school and third year of junior high.

It doesn’t all have to do with education, however, as the concerns are more budgetary than anything else. The party believes that by only have a few sample schools take the exams that the government could save nearly 4 billion Yen each year, a large sum considering current economic difficulties facing leaders.

The tests themselves would also be altered, focusing on a wider variety of subjects rather than just focusing on Japanese and Math. Students from a wider range of grades would also take part in the testing, showing the performance levels of students in more than the two grades currently tested.

The exam is far from being an academic tradition; it was only reinstated in 2007 after leaders felt there had been a marked decrease in the quality of education and the academic abilities of students. As of present, all public schools participate in the testing and over half of private schools submitted their students? results. New regulations would test only a few of these schools as a means to find a balance between the need to gauge academic performance and cut expenses from the budget.

The current ruling party, if it maintains power, has no plans to scale back the testing, citing that students are still having difficulties with the utilization of knowledge as tests from the past few years have shown little change in this respect. It is expected, however, that the DPJ will score a landslide victory in the election, almost guaranteeing changes to the current testing plan, for better or worse.

This year it was the students in Akita and Fukui prefectures who scored the best in exams taken this April. This is their third straight year at the top of the ranks. Overall, the percentage of correct answers rose significantly from last year, but many believe that this is because the overall difficulty of the test was decreased. Problems still remain as there is a large gap between the schools in the top and bottom prefectures, showing that some schools may need additional resources and help to bring their students up to the level of those in other public education systems.

This post was contributed by Donna Scott, who writes about the best online schools. She welcomes your feedback at DonnaScott9929 yahoo.com