Popular English test's disappearance worries parents

The official website of a popular English test disappeared recently, worrying some parents and relieving others.

The official website of a popular English test could not be accessed over the past few days, arousing parents' worries that it has been closed down, meaning their children's hard preparation work over the previous years may be in vain.

As many children took the paid test on Sunday last week, the Shanghai Education Commission is now investigating to see whether the possible closure of the website has infringed on the rights of students and their parents.

The investigation was launched as parents found they could not open the website of the Elegant English Elementary (3E) test soon after their children took the latest test last Sunday.

The WeChat account of the test also removed a previous post about test schedules for 2018.

The 3E test, with three levels for written exams and four levels for speaking, was one of the most popular English tests in Shanghai as it's believed students with test certificates could gain more advantage in applying for popular middle schools.

The commission, however, reiterated that schools of the 9-year compulsory education period should not take scores or awards gained from extra-curricular training or activities into account when considering students for enrollment.

But it has been common, and almost all pupil-targeted training agencies have classes that prepare students for the 3E test.

The test is also said to have brought heavy burdens to students and is getting more and more difficult.

One mother said her son, a fourth grader, had taken the 4th-level oral test with several classmates recently. They were top English learners in their class, but they were not confident they could pass it. One had taken the test twice.

"I have asked 50 of his classmates at school and in cramming classes, only three have passed both the 3rd-level written test and the 4th-level oral test," said the mother. "Their scores were just over the cut-off line, far from excellence."

Several parents said that it was difficult for students to pass the tests without cramming classes.

Because of this pressure, some parents are relieved and believe the test's closure will reduce the burden on their children, but others worry that new tests will soon appear.

The investigation continues.

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