Friday, June 5, 2009

Cheating Crackdown

A few days before Chinese students' make-or-break 高考(college entrance exams), China is very serious about curbing cheating this year.

From Xinhua News:

BEIJING, (Xinhua) -- As millions of Chinese students gear up for the national college entrance examination, education and police authorities Thursday issued stern warnings against cheating.

The Ministry of Public Security has instructed police departments across China to make detailed plans to ensure the security of the exam, which falls on June 7 to 9 each year.

The police would be on high alert for any cheating, such as the use of electronic devices by both students and people outside the exam site to exchange questions and answers, said a statement from the ministry.

The Ministry of Education Thursday announced four investigations that involved the production and sale of devices to be used during the exams, using them as a warning.

The police in northeastern Jilin Province uncovered four underground workshops late last month, where more than 100 sets of devices were found. At least seven people involved were detained.

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In addition to investigations and raids, the crackdowns are also getting high-tech.

From the BBC:
In China, video cameras are being installed in almost 60,000 examination halls to prevent cheating in next week's national college entrance exams.

In the past, some students have been caught using hi-tech equipment, including tiny radio receivers, to get help with exam questions.

For three days next week, more than 10 million Chinese students will sit exams to determine their college entrance.

The exams are seen as potentially life-changing and the competition is fierce.

Some students have been using increasingly sophisticated cheating methods to get ahead.

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It's easy to chide the ring-leaders of these cheating circles and the cheaters themselves for being immoral and tainting the Chinese tests. But I think one should really look at the system before one throws all of the blame on the cheaters and the people helping them.

If Americans think that the SATs are stressful, that test is nothing compared to the 高考. Honestly, one's entire future is determined by these tests. Students' future universities are largely chosen for them and their majors are largely influenced by their exam mark. If one gets a poor score, he or she can forget about going to a good university. No matter how good his or her grades in school were.

While cheating is obviously wrong, it's easy to see why young teenagers with tons of pressure on them (largely because they are single children) would resort to cheating to get a good mark on the exam.

America, which traditionally has not had that strong of an influence on testing, has started going this testing route in recent years. I'm very discouraged by this trend.

Maybe it is the philosophy major in me talking (my college career mostly consisted of writing essays), but I believe training students to be test takers is a very narrow-minded and depressing view of education.


Ramesh said...
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Ramesh said...

Completely agree with you Mark. This is a similar system in most of Asia and places unbelievable pressure on students. In India, suicides after exam results are not unknown. This is a product of too many people, too few seats and a fierce determination in families for children to "make it". Such is the world we live in.