1.8 million students take unified tests

Kyodo

Around 1.8 million sixth-grade elementary and third-year junior high school students nationwide took unified achievement tests Tuesday after they were suspended last year in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

The examinees were from 25,868 public and private schools.

The tests, initially comprising Japanese language and mathematics, were reinstated in 2007 after a 43-year hiatus.

Science was added this time as but will be removed from next year, the education ministry said.

The results will be released this summer.

The test is aimed at providing nationwide academic performance data by school and region so the ministry can discover problems that it may need to address in improving school curricula.

Similar national tests, though varying in scale, were given in the late 1950s and 1960s but were terminated after they were criticized for encouraging excessive competition.