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Murphy and Markell, as well as Arne Duncun and other reformers (News Journal yaddi-yadda crowd) often pull out the China card when promoting their very single minded method of success..

Successful children are ones who meet a certain bar set by a certain person on a certain test.

What anyone else may deem to be successful, such as playing a Bach virtuoso at age 5, is not considered successful   Figuring out this, to get over a bar set 1550 on the SAT, is…

It would be wise to look at the Chinese system before copying it.  For over a thousand years, Chinese emperors used the imperial exam system keju to select government officials. When the great empire was shattered by Western powers in the 19th century, keju was blamed for China’s failure to cultivate the creative and diverse talents needed for modernization. It was officially ended in 1905….

It’s spirit lives on in today’s gaokao (think insurance).

it is practically the only way for upward social mobility, gaokao wields as much power as keju. It orients all aspects of education at all levels toward preparing for the exam. As a result, the modern day education system in China remains a test-prep machine as it was in the days of keju.

In summation, the teaching to the test that occurred for 1000 years of Chinese civilization failed to achieve anything close to the science of those Western strangers who’d sailed their ships right up their rivers and hand cannons aimed at the imperial palace.

Yet they still use it today. The modern-day Chinese test-prep education has the distinction of producing the best test-takers in the world. Which in turn causes it’s own problems.

A.  One study shows that fewer than 10% of Chinese graduates would be qualified to work in a foreign company in occupations such as engineering, finance and accounting.

B.  Corruption such as bribery, cheating and other forms of fraud intended to boost test results has been rampant in the past as well as today.

C.   Stress, anxiety, poor physical health and a lack of social and practical life skills are well-known characteristics of Chinese students.

D.   Its education system stifles creativity, suppresses individuality and induces conformity by forcing all children to compete for better test outcomes in a narrow set of subjects.

E.  Testing rewards those who are willing and able to give the right answers in the right way as demanded by the authority, while eliminating those who are unwilling or unable, but who may be talented in other areas.

F.  It fosters the spirit of compliance. It also results in impoverished educational experiences by forcing schools and teachers to teach to the test.

G.  Parents, too, are forced to narrow their children’s education experience to improve their children’s test performance.

H.   Children are deprived of all opportunities to explore their interests and find their passion.


But China, unlike Markell and Murphy, is aware of the problems of testing and is trying to do things to correct the reliance of standard tests to determine a person’s value…

The changes being made in China are the exact opposite of what Murphy seeks to implement here in Delaware… Where is China is trying very hard to emulate the United States’ educational system, our leaders are trying to take us back to the flawed policies from which the Chinese are running away!!!


The Chinese took these steps.

1. The Ministry of Education issued the order to ban testing for grades one through three. (Delaware is increasing the difficulty and numbers of tests to K-3 in order to acclimate them to the test before it gets taken in third grade.  Again, everything revolves around teaching the taking of a test.)

2.  For grades four and up, standardized testing is only allowed once per year for three subjects (Chinese, math and foreign language). (In Delaware, the NCAE, PSAT, SAT, ACT, AP tests, pre -Smarter Balance Assessments, and the Smarter Balanced Assessment are all taken within 180 days.)

3.   Tests cannot be used to admit students during the compulsory education stage.  (Delaware will hold back all 4 grader and all 8th graders who do not pass the test).


As we have already seen in America, high stakes testing has already led to high stakes erasures and high stakes cheating. It is inevitable. if ones child will not advance, there are many ways a million dollars in the right hand can help that child instantly pass any standardized test. We are setting up a society where only the top test scorers will achieve top positions and only those able to afford to pay for these top test scores, (under the table of course) will go onward.

That is the foundation China was set upon.  Not the foundation given to us by OUR founding fathers.  The imperial exam system did a perfect job in cultivating obedient and homogeneous intellectuals, who contributed to China’s continuous pre-eminence as an agricultural empire.

There is much we can indeed learn from China.  And that starts with not taking the test too seriously and with keeping those things in place here which the Chinese are now trying to emulate, because their system does not have it.

China wants to have the same kind of creative and entrepreneurial talents America desires for the future. It is doing so by minimizing testing, because it has learned that testing and standardization do not help with, and more likely hurt, the development of creative and entrepreneurial talents. This is the Chinese lesson that America can learn.