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Thursday, February 5, 2015, 22:55

Gaokao shake-up gives students choice of subjects

By Xinhua
 Gaokao shake-up gives students choice of subjects

Chinese students get ready to take the annual national college entrance exam or better known as "gaokao" in Hefei, eastern China's Anhui province on June 7, 2009. (CHINA OUT GETTY OUT AFP PHOTO)

BEIJING - Students in central Beijing will soon be allowed choice in their subjects for the first time, under a scheme announced by the city's education commission on Thursday.

The pilot scheme, to be launched in nearly 100 schools in Dongcheng District when the new semester begins in September, will see primary- and secondary-school students choose subjects to study alongside their regular compulsory classes.

They will be able to take the classes in any of the schools involved, and in any grade according to their ability, said the commission.

In a shake-up of China's controversial college entrance exam system, the "gaokao", the students involved in the pilot will have their scores in their chosen courses considered in a "comprehensive academic assessment" that will replace the exam as the main evaluation reference for college enrolment, according to a blueprint for education reform in Beijing.

You Na, deputy head of the Education Commission in Dongcheng, said that the list of subjects open to students will include sciences, art and sports.

One school day each week will be freed up for students to take their chosen classes. The curricula of the classes in every school will be available on the commission's website, You explained.

Beijing's education commission will oversee the establishment of a body responsible for assessing students' performance in their chosen classes.

The gaokao has been criticized as an academic treadmill that confines students' creativity and interests.

In December, China's Ministry of Education announced measures to reform the national exam, asking universities not to base their selection of candidates purely on the tests of students on math, Chinese and English, but on their broader academic achievement, as well as morality standards, physical health, artistic ability and their social practices.

Also in December, a number of high schools in east China's Zhejiang province and Shanghai announced that they would allow senior students to select from classes including politics, history, geography, physics, chemistry and life sciences, and have their scores in three of these subjects included in their gaokao scores.

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