Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)


Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)


Article excerpt

The basic academic ability of children in Japan is steadily improving. It is important to improve classes and education content, without being excessively swayed by the order in which regions are ranked.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry has released the results of the nationwide academic achievement tests for children it conducted in April. The test is taken by all primary school sixth-graders and third-year middle school students to measure basic knowledge and applied skills in Japanese language and mathematics. The test has been conducted since the 2007 academic year, and this was the 10th year.

There was a noticeable improvement in the academic achievement of prefectures that previously had not performed so well.

Looking at the average number of correct answers given in each subject, in recent years the results of prefectures at the bottom of the rankings have drawn closer to the national average, and the gap with the top prefectures has narrowed. It appears efforts such as dispatching teachers from low-ranking prefectures to schools in high-ranking prefectures to learn their teaching methods and improved supplementary lessons are bearing fruit.

Under the administration of the Democratic Party of Japan, the tests were conducted in the 2010 and 2012 school years by selecting about 30 percent of primary and middle schools nationwide. This was due to concerns that the tests would "fan competition."

Having all students sit for these tests can provide a more accurate portrait of the current situation than a sampling method can, and makes it easier for teachers to have a sense of ownership in providing education. Continuing with the method in which all students do the test has resulted in a review of some aspects of what is taught in the classroom.

However, some problems remain.

Critical thinking a weak spot

Although the proportion of correct answers increased regarding basic questions involving calculations, or kanji reading and writing, the results have been less encouraging in questions examining applied skills, such as those in which students frame their thoughts after reading through written material. …

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