The Downside of Exam-based Education in China

On Marketplace, Rob Schmitz has put together a series on the crisis in China’s system, which starts with a report about the gaokao, the intensive college entrance exam that determines the future of millions of Chinese high school every year:

Taking exams has been the way to get ahead in China since the 7th century AD. Back then, mastering the Confucian classics was the ticket to a job in the imperial bureaucracy. Today, 15-year-olds here in Shanghai overwhelmingly beat out their peers throughout the world last year in the Program for International Student Assessment, an International standardized test. American 15-year-olds ranked 17th.

Wang Jianding: This test proved that our students from Shanghai are the world’s best students in reading, science, and math.

Wang Jianding is the principal of Xinzhuang High School in Shanghai.

Jianding: I think there are several factors contributing to our students’ success: First, Chinese society traditionally values education. Secondly, the Chinese government has ensured a solid education system as the foundation of rapid economic development.

But is acing a standardized test the key to an innovative economy?

Shaun Rein: The education system and its inability to train analytical students is the biggest crisis facing China today.

Listen to the full report. Read more about the gaokao via CDT.



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