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GaoKao(高考 National College Entrance Exam)in New YorkCity 精选

已有 10004 次阅读 2017-11-27 22:16 |个人分类:生活点滴|系统分类:海外观察

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Fifth in a series of guest blogs by my friend Dr. Art Chen

GaoKao(National College Entrance Exam)in New YorkCity,  a Look at Stuyvesant High School of New York City

by

ArtChen

I am sure that the title of this piecegot reader’s attention.  The reason forthis piece is because I am sickened tired of all the distorted views, in myopinion, of merit based college admission policy in China. In general, U.S.commentators describe GaoKao[1](考), the nationalcollege entrance exam  in China, as an exercise in rote memory. Implied in thesecomments is that students who pass these tough exams do not have critical thinking,creativity or imagination. How wrong they are because there is a 100-year exampleof GaoKao school in the heart of U.S. media, New York City.  It is the Stuyvesant High School, from which I graduated in 1957.

Stuyvesant High School[2]is the oldest of nine merit based high school in New York City. It is oriented towards STEM (Science, Technology, English, Mathematics) subjects. Admission to Stuyvesant  involves passing the Specialized HighSchools Admissions Test[3].  As the test is for high school entrance, the subject covered is only for English and Math. We may  say  that these subjects are even more susceptible to rote memory.

So what is the record of its graduates? Againfrom Wikipedia:

“Stuyvesant has contributed to the education ofseveral Nobel laureates, winners of the Fields Medal and the Wolf Prize. Notable scientists among Stuyvesant alumni includemathematician Paul Cohen (1950),[106] string theorist Brian Greene (1980),[107] physicist Lisa Randall (1980),[108] and genomic researcher Eric Lander (1974).[109] Other prominent alumni include civil rightsleader Robert Parris Moses,[110]entertainers such as Thelonious Monk (1935),[111] and actors Lucy Liu(1986),[112] Tim Robbins (1976),[113] and James Cagney (1918),[114]comedian Paul Reiser (1973),[115] sports anchor Mike Greenberg (1985), and NBA basketball player and game fixer and bookmaker Jack Molinas(1949).[116] In business, government and politics, former United StatesAttorney General Eric Holder (1969) is a Stuyvesant alumnus,[117] as are Senior Advisor to President Obama David Axelrod (1972),[118] former adviser to President Clinton Dick Morris (1964).”

So Stuyvesant (Stuy) graduates are not all nerds in STEM but also in entertainment (Lucy Liu,  yah!),  in sports and in government. And achievements in these fields surely demonstrated  that Stuy graduates do not lack critical thinking skill or creativity. Some even showed political savvy played  key roles in U.S. Presidential elections  -- democrats, of course.

In the past, concern about the small number of African-Americans and Hispanics in Stuy’s  student  body  has led efforts to modifythis merit based admission policy.  Alumni and parents objected and a law, the Hecht-Calandra Act, was passed by New York  State to assure that merit-based testis the only method that these schools may use to  determine admission.

I personally don’t know about the details of GaoKao except that my parents passed similar  exams in China during the Republican days.

From Wikipedia:  “Chinese literature, Mathematics, and English language (in most provinces)  are requiredfor all students. In addition, students have to choose between two streams,social-science-oriented area and natural-science-oriented area. Students whochoose the former  take an additional paper on history, politics and geography,while those who choose the latter take an additional paper on physics,chemistry and biology.”

Just by looking at the subjects, we can see that subject understanding, logical skills, etc. , are needed to enable astudent to score high on GaoKao.  Rote memory learning will not get you a  high GaoKao score.

Merit based education system flatten the playing field for societal mobility, a notable feature  in Chinese society andin New York City in a sense.

60-70 years ago, Stuyvesant’s student population was predominantly Jewish, about 70%.  There were only three of usChinese-Americans, and a few African Americans.  Now about 60% of Stuy’s studentpopulation is Asians. EVEN MORE NOTABLE, OVER HALF OF THESE STUDENTS ARE FROM LOW INCOME FAMILIES AND QUALIFIES THE  STUDENTS FOR SUBSIDIZED LUNCH. A truly societal equalizer.

I can only speculate what happened to the large Jewish student population. The percentage of  Jewish population in NewYork City has not changed so that is not the reason for decline. However,  Jews are now more affluent; they are reported to constitute about 27% of the student population in Harvard. So I guess that they must be going to private HighSchools. In that sense they are probably no different than the well-to-doChinese who are sending their children to U.S.  to study and thus avoiding thecompetitive pressure of GaoKao at home.

Here to hope that merit-based examinationfor top schools remain in place to assure a  more equal opportunity society.There are already too many barriers for less advantage citizens to  attain theirfull potential.

It is sad that U.S. commentators continue to denigrate merit-based system such as GaoKao and thus merit-based admission policies.  Perpetuating this belief could hurt the U.S. in the longrun; but of course immigration of skilled workers has helped the country to over come this weakness.

(Note added by blogger Y.C.Ho:I generally agree with Dr. Chen about his view on merit-based entrance exam. The only difference I have is what I wrote earlier about the lack of training in asking QUESTIONS in the Chinese educationalsystem

http://blog.sciencenet.cn/home.php?mod=space&uid=1565&do=blog&id=452759. See also writing by others on the difference between US and Chineseeducational system http://blog.sciencenet.cn/home.php?mod=space&uid=103568&do=blog&id=392752.)



[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Higher_Education_Entrance_Examination  

[2]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuyvesant_High_School

[3]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Specialized_High_Schools_Admissions_Test




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