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Green Evaluation: China’s Latest Reform to Deemphasize Testing

24 June 2013 33,576 18 Comments

Last week the Chinese Ministry of Education launched another major reform effort to reduce the importance of testing in education. In a document sent to all provincial education authorities on June 19th, the Ministry of Education unveiled guidelines and a new framework for evaluating schools.

China has engaged in numerous systemic reforms over the last few decades, with the goal to minimize the impact of testing on teaching and learning. “However, due to internal and external factors, the tendency to evaluate education quality based simply on student test scores and school admissions rate has not been fundamentally changed,” says the document. “These problems [of evaluation] severely hamper student development as a whole person, stunt their healthy growth, and limit opportunities to cultivate social responsibilities, creative spirit, and practical abilities in students.” To solve these problems, the Ministry of Education realizes that more serious reforms are needed to change how schools are evaluated.

Dubbed “green evaluation,” the new evaluation framework attempt to end the use of test scores and success rates of sending students to higher-level schools as the only measure of education quality. Instead, it drastically broadens the scope of indicators. The framework includes five areas:

  1. Moral Development indicated by Behaviors and Habits, Citizenship, Personality and Character, and Ambition and Beliefs.
  2. Academic Development indicated by Knowledge and Skills, Discipline Thinking, Application Abilities, and Creativity.
  3. Psychological and Physical Health indicated by Physical Fitness, Healthy Living Habits, Artistic and Aesthetic Taste, Emotional Health and Self-regulation, and Interpersonal Communication (social skills).
  4. Development of Interest and Unique Talents indicated by Curiosity, Unique Talent and Skills, and Discovery and Development of Potentials.
  5. Academic Burdens indicated by Amount of Study Time (e.g. class time, homework time, and time for sleep etc.), Quality of Instruction, Difficult Level of Classes, and Academic Pressure.

The overall idea is to reduce the importance of test scores and academic burden. It is quite interesting to see that schools are to be evaluated based on how much academic burden they put on students. By the way, it is just the opposite of what the U.S. and some other Western countries are trying to do—the more burden (long school days, too much homework time, etc.) the school puts on students, the worse the school will be judged. Student engagement, boredom, anxiety, and happiness will also be used as measures of education quality.

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18 Comments »

  • Jenny Luca said:

    A fascinating development. I’d like to see this make some impact on educations systems elsewhere!

  • Jenny Stevenson said:

    Perhaps the educational pendulum is swinging back towards the middle? Educators have recently tended to rely on indicators that are readily measurable, including the development of numeracy and literacy skills. Creative thinking, problem solving, good social skills and recognition of unique talents are less measurable but equally important contributors to a well balanced society and workplace.

  • China’s new education reform: Reducing importance of test scores said:

    [...] Yong Zhao is the presidential chair and associate dean for global education at the University of Oregon’s College of Education, where he also serves as the director of the Center for Advanced Technology in Education, and is a fellow of the International Academy for Education. This appeared on his blog. [...]

  • New education reforms in China set to shift focus to “whole person” | mwproject.org said:

    [...] prominent scholar in China has reported that the Chinese Ministry of Education is set to introduce a “major [...]

  • 3D Eye said:

    Great article. Shanghai province effectively reinvented its system of education several years ago and as a result went straight to the top of the PISA/OECD world rankings. This reinvention is now being introduced to the rest of China. The inspiration for the changes came from Finland, which has been the best-performing country for many years, and from the work of Gordon Dryden & Jeanette Vos – The New Learning Revolution – whose book was translated into Mandarin and has sold more than ten million copies in Shanghai alone. We wrote a post about these developments last year – https://3diassociates.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/international-comparisons-enlightened-education/

  • Green Evaluation: China’s Latest Reform to Deemphasize Testing | Yong Zhao ← NPE News Briefs said:

    [...] here to read the entire post and the comments via Education in the Age of Globalization » Blog Archive » Green Evaluation: China’s Latest Reform t…. Share this NPE News BriefFacebookTwitterGoogle +1LinkedInEmailMorePrintPinterestTumblrReddit [...]

  • Sara Dewey said:

    This is so interesting. It’s funny how our nation thinks we need to be more like other countries to be competitive in this global economy. Yet you take a country like China who is FINALLY realizing they need to improve their system to benefit the learner. I actually went to China a few years ago to teach a large group of their teachers how to teach like our Western style. When will our leaders figure this out?

  • Laatste lectuur op zaterdag voor de vakantie | X, Y of Einstein? said:

    [...] Onderwijsvernieuwing met minder testen… in China. [...]

  • Conflict System said:

    A green evaluation analysis no matter how well conceived is a peripheral representation on its reality. Very Nice! Well put YongZhao.

  • July 12 | tigersteach said:

    [...] developed a 5-part program for evaluating students and schools that does NOT include test scores:  http://zhaolearning.com/2013/06/24/green-evaluation-china%E2%80%99s-latest-reform-to-deemphasize-tes...    Yesterday UTLA, the LAUSD teachers union, released the results of a “performance [...]

  • Dr. Michael L. Cubbin said:

    When I read articles such as this one regarding the “overhaul” or “re-development” or “reform” of China’s educational system, I am disheartened and (many not understand) but disappointed. Being a NYC high school teacher who has also had the wonderful opportunity to teach in China on two separate occasions, I am forever puzzled as to why we need to change what works so well in China. China holds education to a premium. The students who come here from China excel in our system (so often because the work is so easy.) Yes, there is a disparity between educated and non-educated (rich and poor), but with nearly two billion people, what choice is there for exacting the best and the brightest from its communities. I have not researched Yong Zhao’s background but I am sure if he has passed through the Chinese system of education he came out well prepared to face any challenges that might come before him. I am sure he can think clearly, make informed decisions and act appropriately given the resources at hand. I know personally many Chinese educated individuals (including my wife) and most of them can run circles around most Americans regarding math, English grammar and even US history. Sara Dewey points out that she went to China to teach educators how to teach with a more “western” approach. I teach chemistry and have students beg for calculators when we are doing nothing more than adding decimals. I sat in on a HS class last year where students were computing 1×2 and 2×2 on calculators. Is this what we are going to teach China? My Chinese middle school students’ favorite subjects were chemistry, physics and international trade.

    Before we jump on the bandwagon for the “dumbing down” (oh, how I hate that expression, but nothing else will do) of the Chinese system, perhaps we should first understand what is good about it and why it produces (along with India) so many more talented math-based experts (chemistry, technology, physics, engineering, etc) than the US.

    I am sure I could have worded this much more eloquently, but most articles such as this that I read come from those who feel we are damaging our children through standardized testing, rigorous curriculum, etc… and I am just ranting a bit myself.

  • Reformasi Besar-besaran Pendidikan Cina | Bined said:

    [...] penilaian baru yang memperluas ruang lingkup penilaian. Kerangka penilaian baru ini diberi istilah “Evaluasi Hijau” Ada lima area yang menjadi perhatian pada kerangka penilaian kualitas pendidikan yang baru ini, [...]

  • Reformasi Besar-besaran Pendidikan Cina | BENKYOSHIMASOU said:

    [...] penilaian baru yang memperluas ruang lingkup penilaian. Kerangka penilaian baru ini diberi istilah“Evaluasi Hijau” Ada lima area yang menjadi perhatian pada kerangka penilaian kualitas pendidikan yang baru ini, [...]

  • China’s New Education Reform: Reducing Importance of Test Scores | Awakening the Sleeping Giant said:

    [...] Yong Zhao is the presidential chair and associate dean for global education at the University of Oregon’s Collegeof Education, where he also serves as the director of the Center for Advanced Technology in Education, and is a fellow of the International Academy for Education. This appeared on his blog. [...]

  • China’s 10 new school reform rules: Reduce standardized testing, homework… said:

    [...] Earlier this year China began a major education reform initiative designed to increase student engagement and end student boredom and anxiety. Curbing standardized testing was one aim. Scholar Yong Zhao wrote about it first in this post, and, now, below, gives us the latest developments.  Yong Zhao is the presidential chair and associate dean for global education at the University of Oregon’s College of Education, where he also serves as the director of the Center for Advanced Technology in Education, and is a fellow of the International Academy for Education. This is an updated version of a piece that appeared on his blog. [...]

  • Wen Yu said:

    Keep in mind these are the recommendations for elementary school. Kids still have 6-years to prepare for Gaokao and the rest.

  • The Shanghai Secret to Perfect PISA « A View From the Edge said:

    [...] In another post, Zhao shares how the Chinese Ministry of Education is considering major reforms to REDUCE the importance of testing in education. According to this document, “These problems [of evaluation] severely hamper student development as a whole person, stunt their healthy growth, and limit opportunities to cultivate social responsibilities, creative spirit, and practical abilities in students.” Wow! [...]

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