Grade inflation: when all Vietnamese students are considered “excellent”
VietNamNet Bridge - Le Quynh Hoa, a parent in Cau Giay, complained on her Facebook page that her son, a third grader, got a 9 and 10 score on nearly all of his school work and exams.


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“This is really worrying, because I don’t think the scores truly reflect his learning capability,” Hoa said.

Hoa contacted other parents and heard that 40 out of 50 students in the class were recognized as good and excellent students for the first semester of the academic year.

“At first I thought the information was wrong, but the teacher confirmed this,” Hoa said. “The teacher assured me that this is commonly seen at primary schools in large cities.”

Pham Tat Dong, deputy chair of the Study Encouragement Society, expressed sympathy towards the parent, saying that this is a common worry of many parents.

“It is doubtful that nearly all students in the same class are excellent students,” Dong said.

Parents will lose confidence in national education, he said. Instead of feeling happy about the high achievements gained by their children, parents tend to become more worried because they don’t know their real learning capability.

The majority of secondary and high school students are “good” and “excellent” students, while nearly 100 percent of primary schools get a ‘pass’. 

In the 2017-2018 academic year, 55-60 percent of students received ‘good’ and ‘excellent’ titles. The proportion was higher for 11th and 12th graders, about 70 percent.

Some secondary schools feel puzzled when nearly all primary school graduates who apply for their schools got 9-10 marks in literature and math.

Parents will lose confidence in national education, he said. Instead of feeling happy about the high achievements gained by their children, parents tend to become more worried because they don’t know their real learning capability.

Dong recalled his school time many years ago, saying that there were only several excellent students in one class. “The students were admirable because they were really excellent,” he said.

He went on to say that it is necessary to reform  Vietnamese education so that it can adapt to the new circumstances of global integration

A high school teacher in Hanoi affirmed that the reported high percentage of excellent students is unreliable. Teachers decide their students must be excellent so they can be praised as good teachers and get job promotions. They tend to ‘fabricate’ students’ scores.

The ‘excellent student syndrome’ is attributed to the so called ‘achievement diseases’.
“The problem lies in the management scheme,” he said. “If teachers don’t have to have excellent students at any costs to get a promotion, they won’t suffer from the achievement disease”.


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Mai Chi


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