Move away from mass testing

Anna Uren
Relieving Research Officer

There is to be no standardised testing before year 4 in China.

China has begun educational reform to reduce the burden on primary school students, recognising the damage that mass testing and the pressure to perform can do to children.

In August, the Chinese Ministry of Education released a draft document, titled “Ten regulations to lessen academic burden for primary school students”, for public comment as part of its education reform agenda.

Yong Zhao, born and educated in China and now a Professor at the University of Oregon, has reported that, among the reforms:

  • schools may enrol students only from within a catchment area;
  • students and teachers must be randomly allocated to classes. No streaming of classes is allowed;
  • there is to be no written homework in primary school. Experiential homework, such as craft activities or visits to libraries, is allowed;
  • there can be no standardised testing before year 4, and after that point only once per semester in the main subject areas;
  • education authorities will conduct inspections to ensure the academic burden is being lessened for primary students.

Moves such as these by China only serve to further demonstrate that school segregation and mass testing are falling out of favour internationally. With so much concern that Australia is falling behind its Asian neighbours, Australian politicians would do well do pay careful attention to this development.