More On China’s Test Scores

In a previous post, Why Are Educators Stunned By Shanghai’s Test Scores?, I commented on the differences in the education systems of China and the United States.  In a recent interview Tom Watkins, former schools superintendent for the state of Michigan, talked about China’s test results with specific focus on math scores (link here).

Watkins said there are several major ways in which Chinese math instruction differs from the United States.

They include:

— Students in early elementary grades receive math instruction from teachers who specialize in the subject.

“In lots of places, China has specialists in third-grade math, for instance — that’s what they’re trained to do, third-grade math,” he said.

— Chinese schools give teachers two hours of prep time for every hour in the classroom.

— Unlike the United States, math skills have the same importance as literacy, and all students are expected to take advanced math by the time they leave high school.

 

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One Response to More On China’s Test Scores

  1. Tom says:

    As a person who has worked in Chinese universities for 3 years, I can tell you that these test results are not representative of the typical Chinese student or typical teacher, or typical school.

    “Chinese schools give teachers two hours of prep time for each hour of class time”This may be true officially, but is not true in practice. In many of the high schools, where students are cramming for college entrance exams teachers teach or monitor students from 7am to 10pm everyday.

    Many people who have worked in schools outside of the big cities will tell you that there is little to be envied in the Chinese system. Plagiarism and cheating are incredibly common, and schools regularly lie to the government inspectors.

    At my college in rural China we were preparing for an inspection so there was a lot of work to be done. Teachers had to re-write their students thesis papers, the university had to demote unqualified teachers, and “hire” respected teachers from other schools.

    At another school I was stunned by students inability to find the US on a map of the world, even though they had all passed geography. It turned out that most of them had not had geography because it was not on the test, the school simply lied about the student syllabus so they could focus more on test prep.

    While these test results show that the US could be doing much better on test results, creativity is still our most important contribution to education.

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