A special committee on the improvement of college entrance system for the year 2022 has announced on Thursday the subject of agenda items, which will be handed over to the public discussion committee. Of the three points of contention for which the Education Ministry asked for a mandatory opinion on May 11, the special committee decided to exclude the agenda on the integration of due and early admission systems and hand over two items to the public discussion body: the proportional adjustment between the comprehensive qualitative student assessment and the quantitative scholastic ability test, and the implementation of a college entrance test based on absolute evaluation. The public discussion committee will draw up four to five scenarios by the end of June by holding workshops for experts and stakeholders. The workshops will be followed by TV debates, regional public debates and online surveys to reflect public opinion, before a final survey in late July where 400 citizen participants will decide on the final version.
The proportion between the scholastic test and the qualitative student assessment is a sensitive issue with different classes and regions having very different opinions about. The impact that each scenario will have varies depending on whether students are from metropolitan or local areas and whether they go to a four-year university or a junior college. Usually, local universities select students based on their academic records, and vocational colleges typically choose students who did not take the college entrance exam. “It is quite challenging to establish a single recommendation on the ratio between the assessment and exam scores that can be applied to all,” said Kim Jin-gyeong, the head of the special committee, in a recent press conference. The special committee chief has admitted to the problematic nature of public discussion and establishment of a uniform recommendation.
Standardization of the college entrance system will take a heavier toll on our students than any other stakeholder involved. Students with special talents will be deprived of the opportunity to choose a college that suits their abilities and academic levels. Each college has a different standard for a desirable student, but the principle will also be ignored once the system is standardized into one package. Universities in Seoul ask for the leeway for them to choose detailed admission procedure in order to “find promising talents for the future.” And the Korean Federation of Teachers’ Association argues that the proportion between the assessment and entrance test scores and the minimum academic standard have been decided on by colleges in principle.
Experts are voicing a concern that standardization of college admission system is likely to cause negative side-effects. But the government is seeking to draw up a measure for standardization with the help of non-experts. Naturally, this leads to the criticism that the effort for public discussion is obsessed with peripheral issues, instead of paying the necessary attention to the mid- and long-term direction of our education and admission systems. In the process of discussing how we can improve our college admission system, the future of our education has gone missing.