Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Exam schools

One way to control admission to (some) public schools is by having an entrance exam. That solves a number of problems, including of course the time at which admissions choices are made. In response, families sometimes invest a lot of time in exam preparation. One development that has apparently moved from Asia to NYC is the "cram school". The NY Times reports on The Big Cram for Hunter High School. The story looks in on a group of sixth graders who "had paid up to $3,000 for a few months of English and math classes at Elite, a regimen modeled on the cram schools of South Korea, China and Japan."
"While Elite limits advertising to Asian-language newspapers, about 50 percent of its students are non-Asian. ...Many of the students in the winter break program were children of immigrants — from South Korea, Japan, Poland — and most attend city schools. "

"When prompted, they took a moment to reflect on why they wanted to get into Hunter. Some said it was an urge to become better students and be surrounded by bright peers; others said they had been told Hunter was a vital steppingstone to elite colleges and a successful career... "

"And what if they were not among the fewer than 200 students who gain seats out of a pool of up to 2,000 test-takers?
“I’ll be sad,” said James Lee, a student at Intermediate School 119 in Glendale, Queens, “but there’s still Stuyvesant.”"


László said...

In Hungary, there is a whole industry for such schools (or private lessons on the black market), both for university entrance exams and high school exams. (And also for foreign language exams, that also help admission.) Many schoolteachers earn a second salary from such second jobs -- basically replicating their primary jobs. Does the school system fail the students so miserably, or it is just an arms race?

Teachers have an incentive to keep the system alive and do not improve school performance or convince parents that simple schooling would be enough.

OneEyedMan said...

These are not new. These cram schools, at least for schools like Stuyvesant, have been around for at least 15 years in NYC,