Blog entry by Joanne Chuang

Anyone in the world

"I failed Maths! 我數學考砸了! " 這是今早在衛理女中 Drammar 戲說文法課堂上一位學生對我說的第一句話 !
"I failed Maths!" That was the first thing one of my Drammar students at Wesley said to me this morning.

我問: 考了幾分?
"What score did you get?" I asked.

學生答 : 72分 !
"72!" She said.

我笑說:"所以妳在考試中答對了近3/4,然後覺得自己搞砸了 ? 我覺得你數學其實蠻好的耶~"。
I laughed. "So you got nearly 3/4 of the exam right. And you failed? I think your math is pretty good, actually."

Coming from the UK, I was pretty shocked when I first arrived in Taiwan and discovered that the grade boundaries were so high. Someone from the US would not be shocked of course, since Taiwan's education system is much borrowed from the US.

在英國,評分有明瞭的對比和邏輯。及格是50%,所以,若答對一半以上,就可以及格(儘管這只是拿到C,並不是非常出色)。答對60%通常是B,若是 “good” 或者是“A”,則是答對70%以上(就是答對2/3的試題!)。偶爾會出現額外80%以上的A *、或90%以上的A ^^,用以區分那些實在出色的學生。這樣的系統在歐洲很常見,尤其是在芬蘭這個教育體制被公認為世上最理想的國家。
In the UK, there is a nice symmetry and logic to grades. A pass is 50%, so if you know more than half you pass (though this is only a C grade so not really very good). 60% is usually a B so 'good' and an A is over 70% (so you got 2/3 of the exam right!). Sometimes an extra Grade like an A* is added for over 80% or even an A^^ for over 90% to help differentiate really excellent students. Systems like this are common in Europe, and notably are used by Finland, which is often considered to have the best education system in the world.
為何台灣的成績分界門檻正在傷害學生的自信 Why Taiwan's Grade Boundaries are Damaging Students' Self Confidence

現在,暫時反向思考一下,美國(以及台灣)也許有些充分理由,把成績門檻界定在約70%如此高的標準。在美國,很多測驗是選擇題,可能有很多相對簡單的題目,所以可能很容易拿到這70%。也許會有人持不同見解,以數學這科為例,通常會有非常明確的答案,要求較高的準確度以通過門檻非常合理。畢竟,如果你是設計火箭上火星的Elon Musk,若只有50%的精確度,你的火箭恐怕會墜毀! 學校和政府機關或許也認為透過高門檻可以提高水準。
Now, just to play devil's advocate for a moment, there may be some good reasons for the US (and therefore Taiwan) having high grade boundaries with a pass rate of around 70. In the US, many tests are multiple choice, and may have many easier questions, so it may be a lot easier to get that 70. One could also argue that, in Math, a subject where there is usually a clear right or wrong answer, it is reasonable to expect a high level of accuracy to pass. After all, if you are Elon Musk and designing a rocket to Mars, and your calculations are only 50% right, your rocket is going to crash! Schools and governments might think they are raising standards by having high pass marks.

However, there are some big problems with having these high boundaries. The first is student confidence and motivation. I have seen first hand many times in Taiwan who believe they are not good at a subject, when actually they are not bad. Lower motivation can result in them not studying well, and then they get worse and worse grades in exams - a vicious cycle many students never escape from. I know many students who simply 'give up' on school or exams or particular subjects. Secondly - higher grade boundaries do not result in higher standards or higher attainment among students: in order to make sure a reasonable number of students pass these exams, the exam questions are often multiple choice and easier. Multiple choice assessment is one of the poorest ways to judge students (but that's a topic for another post). A third problem is that concentrating all the students who pass in the top 70% of the exam grades makes it harder to differentiate between them.

台灣若繼續以美國的教育制度為藍本,將錯失機會、成為一場災難。美國的教育制度和評等早已日益衰退,不再是該追隨的模式。任何一個教育工作者都不該忽視像芬蘭這樣成績門檻較低,卻具成功經驗的國家。低門檻也許會給人降低標準的錯覺,但只要將試題難易度做適度的結合、擺脫程度受限、連一隻訓練過稍有運氣的猴子都可能僥倖過關的選擇題型式,問題自然迎刃而解。即使答對50%終究只能得到C的成績,對多數的學生而言仍會希望得到 B 或 A,而C則是有搞砸的意味。若我們持續認定答對 2/3 的學生考差了,無疑地將繼續削弱這些年輕人努力、相信自己的能力;而缺乏自信將會對人生產生深遠的負面影響。
For Taiwan to continue modelling its education system on the US, is a missed opportunity and a tragedy. The US education system and ratings have been in decline for a long time now - it is no longer a model to aspire to. No educator can ignore the successes of countries like Finland which have lower pass boundaries. Lowering pass boundaries might feel like lowering standards, but the answer is simply to have a better mix of easy and hard questions on the papers, and to move away from limited multiple choice questions that a trained monkey could get right with sufficient luck. A 50% pass is still only a C - and most students will still want a B or A, but at least a C does carry the stigma of a a FAIL. As long as we continue to say that students who get 2/3 of a test right are in fact failing, we will continue to demotivate our young people from trying their best and believing in themselves. And a lack of confidence can have far-reaching and damaging life consequences.

台灣當局意下如何 ? 是否該起身做些改變 ?
How about it, Taiwan government? Time for a change?

你怎麼想呢 ? 是否也認為只有答對70%就是考砸了? 請在下方留言讓我們聽聽你的看法 ! 若你認同這是台灣教育制度亟待改變之處,請不吝分享和按讚。當足夠的人意識到必須改變,改變就會開始!
And what do you think? Do you think 70% should be a fail in a test? Let us know in your comments below! And if you think this is something we need to change in our education system in Taiwan- share and like this post. Change happens when enough people say it must!