The education ministry said Friday that it will allow municipal boards of education to release individual schools’ results of the national achievement test.
The test, launched in the 2007 academic year, is used to gauge achievements mainly in Japanese and mathematics. In principle, all students in the sixth year of elementary school and third year of junior high school are supposed to take it.
The education ministry said it is changing the reporting policy in the hope that it will prompt local authorities to examine their efforts and improve students’ capabilities.
The release of individual results had been banned out of concern it would cause excessive competition and promote grading among schools.
A ministry survey in July found that only 17 percent of municipal boards of education nationwide support the announcement of individual school results compared with 79 percent against it.
However, Masao Horibe, a professor emeritus of information law at Hitotsubashi University, welcomed the policy change.
“It will cause friendly competition among schools, while enabling teachers to ascertain the academic levels of their students,” Horibe said. “It should be considered a chance to improve education itself, not only to evaluate scores.”
Arguing against the move, Naoki Ishikawa, a professor of education at Saitama University, said that “it is already known that the average percentage of questions answered correctly is low at schools with many low-income parents, so it does not mean schools with good results in the achievement test are doing of good job of educating.”
“The policy change will generate misunderstanding that the achievement test is the only barometer to evaluate schools,” Ishikawa said.
The next nationwide test will be held April 22.