Test Politics

Chinese government officials are complaining that the SAT, the standard American college entrance exam, is forcing “American values on its best and brightest”:

“The news agency’s report cited commentary published recently in the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong newspaper, about the SAT changes. Author Kelly Yang argued that the new focus on civil liberties may ‘change the mind-set and world view of an entire generation of Chinese youth.’

‘If the new SAT succeeds, it will be the first time America is able to systematically shape the views, beliefs and ideologies of hundreds of thousands of Chinese students every year, not through a popular television show or a politician’s speaking tour, but through what the Chinese care about most — exams,’ she wrote.”

The SAT and the College Board writ large are a racket, plain and simple, that would make Al Capone blush.  It’s a worthless test that only determines your ability to take the SAT itself, nothing more (speaking as someone who, in a former life, worked part-time as an SAT prep instructor).

That said, it’s interesting to see the Chinese government take umbrage at something that most Americans regard as a needless, expensive, and worthless rite of passage.

Meanwhile, South Korea is making changes of its own to its grueling Su-nung, or college admission test.  The English portion of the exam is being made easier in an effort to curb expensive private schooling for students:

“The government expects the easier English test for college entrance to help lower the financial burden of English education for students.

Korean parents spend 19.4 trillion won ($17.9 billion) annually to provide their children with private education so they can gain the competitive edge in the classroom and eventually have a better chance to enter a prestigious college.”

As somebody who makes a living teaching English here, I heartily approve.  There’s no reason to force people to learn a language they aren’t interested in learning.

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This entry was posted in America, China, Education, English, ESL, Korea, Kultur, Language, South Korea. Bookmark the permalink.

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