Japan panel calls for end to knowledge-centric exam

Japan panel calls for end to knowledge-centric exam
Examinees sit for the unified college entrance exams in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo.

JAPAN - The proposal by the government's Education Rebuilding Implementation Council to introduce a new type of test is aimed at rectifying the current situation in which test-takers are assessed by exams that put too much emphasis on their acquired knowledge rather than comprehensive ability.

The panel also urges each university to adopt a multifaceted evaluation method when screening examinees.

However, many high school and university officials are cautious toward introducing the new test, tentatively called an achievement test, as they are concerned about whether fairness can be ensured in screening examinees.

On Thursday, the panel headed by Waseda University President Kaoru Kamata submitted a set of proposals to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe regarding university entrance exam reform. The panel called for establishing basic and advanced level achievement tests to replace the current unified college entrance exams known as the National Center Test for University Admissions. The panel also called for discussions to utilize third-party foreign language proficiency tests.

Details about the new tests, including how they will be conducted, will be discussed at the Central Council for Education, an advisory panel for the education minister, with an eye toward introducing them in about five years.

The basic-level achievement test will assess the basic academic ability of high school students while the advanced test will be used by universities to screen applicants. The panel has called for discussions to allow high school students to take both tests several times.

"These proposals will bring about a major overhaul since the National Center Test launched more than 20 years ago," Abe said upon receiving the proposals from Kamata at the panel's meeting on Thursday. "It will change education entirely.

"We'll provide appropriate explanations to the public and I'll ask [people concerned] to discuss specific measures immediately."

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