• Jiji


Achievement tests for elementary and junior high school children across Japan showed no correlation between the percentages of correct answers and the lengths of coronavirus school closures, education ministry data showed Tuesday.

Gaps in the average percentages of correct answers between the prefectures were also small.

The tests for elementary school sixth-graders and junior high school third-graders were carried out in May after the cancellation last year due to blanket school closures triggered by the COVID-19 crisis.

The tests measured achievement in Japanese language and arithmetic for elementary school students and in Japanese and mathematics for junior high school students.

Some 1.97 million students at about 29,000 public and private schools participated, covering almost all public schools and about half of private schools in Japan.

For elementary school children, the average percentage of correct answers stood at 64.9% in Japanese, against 64.0% two years ago, and at 70.3% in arithmetic, against 66.7%.

Junior high school students correctly answered 64.9% of questions in Japanese, against 73.2%, and 57.5% in mathematics, against 60.3%.

No correlation was observed among the average percentages of correct answers when schools were divided into groups by the lengths of school closures in increments of 10 days, such as a period of 50 to 59 days, which were enforced in spring last year.

Gaps in the average percentages of correct answers were about 10 percentage points both among the prefectures and among ordinance-designated big cities.

Prefectures with high averages were unchanged from past years, including Ishikawa and Akita.

An education ministry official said the test results need more detailed analysis, including from such aspects as family situations.

The test results also showed that children had difficulties with some questions that needed to be answered using materials and data. Many struggled to find necessary information from multiple passages and materials and think mathematically about everyday events using charts and graphs.

The nationwide achievement tests are intended to help improve teaching at schools, not to assess how children’s academic skills have changed over time.

The ministry will examine how the coronavirus pandemic has affected academic achievement by using the latest test results and a separate survey on some 1,350 schools conducted in June to analyze changes in achievement over years.

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