This past week about 2.32 millioin sixth graders and third-year middle school students in Japan took part in the education ministry’s nationwide scholastic testing process. The ministry insists the object of the tests were to grasp the scholastic ability of individual children in order that teachers might be able to assist children in their learning. There is no question these nationwide tests will fuel excessive and unnecessay competition betweeen schools and parents. Since all children participate in the tests, individual school results will soon be noted and demands made to “raise standards” in schools whose students did not attain high enough scores. Of course, the education ministry promised not to use school test results in order to compare schools, but if the United States is a model, that is forlorn dream.
Even now, materials are being pumped out by education companies which promise to aid schools in raising test scores and by the next year, teachers will halt teaching in order to devote valuable time to making certain their students pass the tests with high scores. The wheels of commerce will be entering the classroom and the original desire to aid “individual children” will be lost in the frenzy to obtain more yens.