Airing of test scores opposed

by Natsuko Fukue

About 95 percent of municipal boards of education do not want to disclose how well — or how badly — public school students in their jurisdiction do on nationwide achievement tests, according to an education ministry survey released Wednesday.

A proposal to release the results of nationwide achievement tests by municipality has stirred controversy, with some education experts fearing it would lead to too much competition between schools and cities as public schools become ranked by test results.

Under the current system, individual schools are allowed to disclose test results if they so choose, but boards of education are not to avoid creating a rating system.

Nevertheless, a board of education in Nanbu, Tottori Prefecture, released the test results of two elementary schools and two junior high schools last month, claiming the ministry’s regulation is not binding.

Osaka Gov. Toru Hashimoto, also a critic of the board of education policy, released test results by municipality in October.

In 2007, sixth-graders and third-year junior high school students were given a nationwide test for the first time in 43 years, mainly to measure their Japanese and mathematics levels.

According to the ministry, the purpose of the test was not only to gauge the students’ academic level but also to help improve teachers’ skills.

According to the latest survey, 95.3 percent of 1,839 city and town boards of education and 72.3 percent of 47 prefectural boards of education did not want to disclose the test results by municipality.

Only 3.9 percent of municipal boards of education said they should be allowed to give consent to the prefecture to reveal test results.