Updated August. 29, 2014 04:10
English section of the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) is planned to be converted from current relative evaluation to absolute evaluation. New Education Minister Hwang Woo-yeo said, The overall plan is already established, implying that the remaining issue is only when to apply. The potential schedule to adopt the new evaluation method will be 2018 CSAT, when the current middle school seniors apply for.
This decision aims to reduce costs for private education. President Park Geun-hye gave a direction to the Ministry of Education in February, The burden of English private education should be drastically cut as it accounts for one third of the total private education costs. By adopting the absolute evaluation for the English section of CSAT, the number of students who get the first grade, the highest grade in CSAT, will sharply go up. The government believes that the students would not spend as much time in studying English as they did in the past and the private education burdens would be lessened accordingly.
However, this measure is shortsighted and its effectiveness is at question. If the assessment function of English section drops, private education in other subjects such as math has to be increased. According to the survey, 60 percent of the respondents said, The absolute evaluation of CSAT English does not help to decrease private education. CSAT has maintained similar frame since its introduction in 1993, but the Ministry of Education is now shaking the fundamentals of the CSAT system with this decision. It is highly likely for the high schools, which put highest priority on CSAT preparation, to reduce the proportion of English classes and to focus more on mathematics and Korean. If it is necessary to change the CSAT system, the ministry should deal with the overall frame. Working on stopgap measures will result in bigger side effects.
It is more dangerous if the government believes it can do anything to reduce the private education costs. If the absolute evaluation is adopted for other CSAT subjects, it may decrease further the private education costs. Or, if the government abolishes the CSAT, private education costs for college entrance examination will disappear forever, as the extreme left-wingers argue. However, in a nation where human resources are almost the only asset, it is absurd to abandon the education system to develop elites. The government should not forget that the education authorities first duty is to enhance academic ability of students. English education is not a matter that we can neglect in this globalized world. The government should withdraw this decision and take sufficient time to discuss.