Under the system, as it was outlined in 2013, first grade middle students will be exempt from taking written mid-term and final exams for one semester during their 6 semesters at middle school. They will also participate in more extra-curricular clubs and activities at school and outside of school. Although the program was introduced in 2013, all schools will not be required to participate in the program until 2016.
In my case, my current school decided to implement the exam-free semester for first grade middle school students this year (2015) rather than next year when all schools will be required to implement it. Currently, we are in the middle of the first exam free semester. As a NET that is responsible for conducting once-a-week English classes for 8 different first grade classes, I have been seeing mixed results, but what have I been seeing and why?
I will start with the “what” and get to my thoughts on why in a later post.
- I have been seeing the attitude toward class gradually go toward the direction of not caring.
- I have seen students act out more in class than before.
- I have seen teachers becoming far more stressed because of having to lead extra activities in addition to their normal classes.
- I have seen teachers lose more control over their classes and students.
- I have seen an increase in the number of hagwon (private academy) vans and buses waiting to do pick-ups at the end of the school day. Even though, the number of students at school has decreased.
- I have heard that students are spending more time studying at hagwons than in their public school classes.