Commission releases high school admission details

Yang Meiping
Shanghai Education Commission says high school admission reform to take effect from September aims to promote the balanced development of basic-education schools. 
Yang Meiping

The Shanghai Education Commission has released details of a high school admission reform to take effect from September which aims to promote the balanced development of basic-education schools. 

In Shanghai, middle school students can apply for key high schools in the city in three ways — a unified high school admission exam, the high schools’ independent admission schemes, and comprehensive admission schemes that take their performance in the exam and at interview into account. 

A full score is 750 points in the admission exam and 50 points in the interview. 

From the 2021-22 academic year, key high schools will reduce quotas for their independent admission schemes to 6 percent of the total admission plan from 8 percent. At least 15 percent of students admitted through the schemes should be outstanding in sports or art. 

They will also give more quotas to the comprehensive admission schemes. 

According to a document released by the commission on Tuesday, these schools will distribute 50 to 65 percent of their total admission quotas to district education bureaus or eligible middle schools directly. 

Students can submit applications to the district and school channels before the high school admission exam and be admitted based on their combined scores in the exam and interviews. Applicants are ranked first by their exam scores to get a chance to take part in an interview.

This means some middle school students only have to compete with their schoolmates or peers in the same district, instead of the fiercer citywide competition in the unified high school admission exam channel.

“Every middle school that admits students without selection will be able to get at least a place directly given by a key high school, unless the total quota at a high school is smaller than the number of eligible middle schools, then it will be distributed in a draw," said Yang Zhenfeng, director of the education commission's basic education division.

"It gives a chance to less popular schools to attract more outstanding students," he added.

Previously, parents were eager to enroll their children in popular middle schools, including many private schools, which have more graduates admitted into key high schools.

But from the next academic year, even middle schools that never had graduates admitted to the key high schools will get quotas, which is believed will increase their attraction to parents.

Before last year, Shanghai’s private middle schools selected outstanding students from applicants via interviews while public schools were admitting students directly from nearby communities or primary schools, something that is also believed to have caused an imbalance among schools.

In such a situation, private schools will not be able to get direct quotas from key high schools in the 2021-22 academic year as graduates in the year were admitted in 2018 via selection. But their students can apply for the district-level quotas.

To enjoy the direct quotas and respond to the city government’s efforts in promoting basic education in general, from last year all private schools in Shanghai no longer arranged interviews. Instead, they would accept all applicants when the number is within its admission plan; otherwise, the students are picked via a random draw using computer software. 

"But direct quotas will not ensure students get admitted," said Yang. "There will be a bottom line for applicants' scores, if all applicants from a middle school cannot reach the requirement of the key schools, they will not be admitted either. So every school still needs to improve their education quality to help their students acquire the opportunity."

Yang said schools will arrange meetings with parents to explain the new policy in the next two weeks.

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