The National Assessment Center for Education Quality of MOE has released two 2019 National Compulsory Education Quality Oversight Reports relating to the teaching of Chinese language and art subjects. The reports formed the response to a series of hard-to-solve issues of public concern, and provided a full picture of how students are learning Chinese and arts in compulsory education and an analysis of major factors that impact the quality of Chinese and arts education.
In accordance with the National Compulsory Education Quality Monitoring Program by the Education Steering Committee under the State Council, 2019 marked the second monitoring cycle of student academic performance in Chinese and arts subjects in national compulsory education. A total of 331 county (city or district) samples were collected from 31 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) and Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps nationwide, covering 4,097 primary schools and 2,522 junior middle schools, with field tests in 116,578 fourth-grade primary school students and 79,086 eighth-grade junior middle school students, and a questionnaire survey of 6,611 primary and middle school principals and 47,334 Chinese and arts teachers. Based on careful design and solid preparation, scientific and sound sampling methods were applied (with an overallmargin of error of below 1%) while standardized indicators and tools were adopted to ensure appropriate data collection and thorough data analysis. A high-level expert group was set up to draft the final reports based on the outcomes of this work.
Results for Chinese learning showed that 81.7% of fourth graders and 79.3% of eighth graders showed medium to excellent performance, generally unchanged since the report in 2016. Nearly 30% of students from underprivileged families achieved “unexpected” accomplishments in Chinese learning. 94.5% of the fourth graders and 88.9% of the eighth graders had a high or very high interest in Chinese learning, while 47.9% and 49.1% a high or very high confidence in learning and 67.2% and 62.2% good or very good learning habits. 71.7% of the fourth graders and 70.6% of eighth graders spent over 15 minutes a day in extracurricular reading, while 64.8% of fourth graders and 77.1% of eighth graders engaged in at least 3 types of extracurricular reading. The teaching behaviors of teachers in the subject of Chinese improved significantly. 43.3% of fourth-grade teachers and 31.8% of eighth-grade teachers implemented a student-centered approach to teaching, 20 and 11.3 percentage points higher than in 2016, respectively. More than 40% of all fourth graders and eighth graders worked overtime on schoolwork, and 20% of the fourth graders needed extra time to simply complete their Chinese homework, compared to state benchmarks. Surveys on the workload of class tutors indicated that, class tutors worked long hours and endured tough teaching tasks as well as severe disruptions by non-teaching matters, indicating an urgent need to reduce teacher workload.
In terms of the monitoring results for arts learning, students’ competences in musical hearing, music appreciation, and basics of music composition maintained almost the same level as in the last monitoring cycle of 2016. 78.5% of the fourth graders and 77.2% of the eighth graders showed medium to excellent performance in singing. Students’ competences in basics of art, art appreciation, and application of art related knowledge in daily life remained similar to 2016 levels. 91.5% of fourth graders and 65.8% of eighth graders showed medium to excellent performance in painting. Students showed particular enthusiasm for Chinese painting, handicrafts, calligraphy and other fine traditional art forms, but demonstrated weaker performances in art appreciation for certain folk songs, ethnic musical instruments and traditional paintings. Over 80% of students favored arts subjects and arts teachers. Teaching resources allocated for arts improved substantially compared to in 2016, though the utilization rate of resources remained low. Overall, the number of full-time arts teachers was higher than in 2016, but the report showed that rural areas were still suffering serious shortages in arts teachers.