ALL Shanghai primary schools will begin evaluating first and second-grade students by grades rather than by specific scores from September.
An A, B, C-based grade system is more comprehensive with more inputs, rather than just giving a precise score, the Shanghai Education Commission said yesterday.
This reduces comparisons which could hurt young children’s self-esteem, explained officials.
Officials said they decided to promote the new evaluation system citywide after finding students in a one-year pilot program in two districts have higher motivation to learn than those who evaluated simply by scores.
“Many parents are so worked up about why their children get one point less than others in quizzes and exams, and that adds a lot of pressures onto students,” said Jia Wei, deputy director of the commission.
Jia said parents should place more importance on teacher evaluation and comments instead.
At some local schools, teachers rank students by their scores, with the pupil who is last shamed in front of the whole class.
Jia said the new grading system will have a comprehensive evaluation on students, taking not only students exam scores but also classroom performances, learning attitude, motivation and learning ability into consideration.
Teachers are also asked to give inspiring comments in the evaluation to encourage students.
“For young students, stimulating their interest to learn is more important than knowing knowledge. They should not be afraid of studying, but be happy to learn,” Jia said.
Xi Huijun, the mother of a first-grader, said she fully endorsed the approach.
“It’s so common that children regard those with poor scores as bad students, which is not true,” said Xi, adding that she was shocked when her first-grade daughter once said she didn’t want to be friend with a boy because he always did poor in exams.
But there are still many parents who care a lot about scores. With summer here, many parents plan to send their children to learn pinyin (the Chinese phonetic alphabet), English and mathematics in the vacation, to ensure their kids are more competitive when school starts.
“I don’t want my only child to fall behind others from first grade,” said Zhang Huihong, mother of a 7-year-old daughter. In her opinion, learning in advance can make children proud of themselves and build confidence.
“If you give children a happy childhood, you might risk giving them miserable twilight years,” Zhang said. “No parent wants their children to blame them for not giving them the best education.”
Since many students learn in advance, some teachers speed up classes, leaving those who haven’t learned falling behind.
The education commission has told all teachers to strictly follow the curriculum standards unveiled by the commission, no matter if students have already studied parts.
“All students should be treated the same from the beginning,” said Tan Yibin, deputy director of the educational research department of the commission.