Tokyo students take oral English test in high school entrance exam amid doubts | Rare Techy


The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has introduced an English-speaking test as part of its public high school entrance exams for the first time amid doubts that the tests will be graded fairly.

It also marked the first time in Japan that a test developed by a private company was used to assess students’ admission to public high schools.

Students take the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s English Speaking Test as part of the public high school entrance exam on November 27, 2022 in Tokyo. (Photo courtesy of Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Education)(Kyodo)

Scores from Sunday’s English-speaking test, developed jointly with Benesse Corp., will be added to students’ grades and evaluations from their junior high schools, along with results from an academic test to be administered in February.

Total scores will determine which high school students can enroll in the next school year, which begins in April 2023.

Some parents and teachers have criticized the speech portion of the entrance exam for metropolitan government-run high schools, saying it is similar to Benesi’s English language proficiency test and gives an advantage to students taking language classes from an education service provider.

She said the grading criteria was not clear.

About 69,000 third-grade junior high school students took Sunday’s oral exam. About 95 percent of students in this grade, or 76,000 students, who study in metropolitan government-run junior high schools, had initially applied to sit the exam.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education plans to allow absentees another chance to take the exam on Dec. 18, as some will be absent due to illness, including Covid-19 or the flu.

The speaking portion will be graded by a Benes affiliate staff in the Philippines, and grades will be released in January.

Students recorded verbal answers to eight questions on a tablet and wore headsets with microphones and ear muffs to block out noises, lasting about 15 minutes.

Some complained that they could hear other people’s answers, but the Board of Education said it was unaware of the larger issues.

Last week, a group of 17 parents and university professors filed a lawsuit against the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, demanding that it stop using public money for an English speaking test involving a private company.

The Tokyo Board of Education said it conducted three mock exams to better prepare for the English section and ensure fair grading.

Related Coverage:

FOCUS: Test of English Speaking Test for Tokyo High Schools Raises Eyebrows

Focus: Japan faces a long and difficult road to promoting inclusive education

A Japan public elementary school offers a rare English-immersion program


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