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Reforms as local kids head back to school

AS 1.6 million primary and secondary school students return to school today for the start of the spring semester, the Shanghai Education Commission said city schools will be asked to ease student workload and introduce personalized education programs.

The commission is also working on improving the education appraisal system, which has in the past emphasized student exam scores above all else, by introducing advanced domestic and international testing methods such as the Program for International Student Assessment.

"Local children may score highly in exams," said Yin Houqing, vice director of the Shanghai Education Commission. "But they have paid a price for the amount of time spent on study and their ability to apply their knowledge might not be so good."

The commission has asked schools to diversify methods of appraisal to emphasize efficient study and innovative thinking among students.

Schools in Zhabei District this term are trying to ensure teachers will not overload students with homework, an important education policy that has often been ignored by local teachers and parents chasing high test scores.

"We are taking pupil workload into account for the first time when we evaluate school principals and teachers this semester," said Gu Xiao°?pu, director of the Zhabei District Education Bureau. "The bureau will look into how much homework teachers give their pupils."

Teachers who do not follow the recommendations, those who are inefficient and those who receive complaints from students and parents will be disciplined and may be fired if they don't improve, Gu said.

Luwan District Education Bureau officials said they will now listen to student feedback when they assess schools and teachers.

Schools in Jing'an District will provide individualized curriculums for the 20 percent of students whose physical fitness falls below the national standard. Schools in the district are also being encouraged to develop tailored homework for individual students.

From this semester, non-local students will not have to pay extra to study at public primary and middle schools.


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