EDU-JPN:What Happens when there are Mistakes on the University Entrance Exams?

Education in Japan (Natalie Collor)

The Assistant Dean at Osaka University, Kobayashi Tadashi, recently spoke about the mistake found on the university’s entrance exam last year and acknowledged the university staff was at fault for roughly thirty students being rejected from the school because their correct answer was considered invalid. It took over eight months for the university to investigate this matter and realize that an alternative solution was possible and completely correct. In addition to accepting all fault for this occurrence, the university is prepared to offer admittance to all the students rejected based on their answer to this problem on last year’s test. However, it may be too little too late for some students.

Since entrance exams are taken just months before the first day of university classes, students have very little time to decide their future after the results of the exams are released. If students do not pass the exam at their top choice university, most of them choose one of two options: to enter a prep school for a year and retake their desired school’s exam the next year, or to enter a different program at the same school or a completely different school. Therefore, the students who have retroactively been given admission to Osaka University may already be nearing the end of their first year at a different school and find it difficult to transfer to Osaka University. Others may have already spent an additional year’s worth of money and energy preparing to re-take the exam in a few weeks.

Each student will likely have to make a decision very soon, because the university only has a specific number of seats available in each year of admission. Dean Kobayashi also spoke on how this unexpected situation created a bit of chaos in calculating the size of this year’s incoming class.

This is not the first time a university entrance exam was not graded accurately and the results mistakenly rejected a large number of students. The man responsible for bringing light to an alternative answer on the Osaka University entrance exam, Yoshida Hiroyuki, added his two cents on the issue. He said that while human errors are impossible to avoid completely on man-made tests like university entrance exams, he wished the university would have begun an investigation much sooner to resolve the error. Perhaps then the university admissions staff would not be scrambling down to the wire to figure out the exact number of students to grant admission to this year.


EDU-JPN:Cell phone apps quickly becoming a reliable study partner for students

Education in Japan (Natalie Collor)

Technological advances are often talked about in educational settings with reference to how they improve the classroom environment, but these improvements in technology can affect students’ success outside the classroom, too. In recent years, the development of many cell phone apps geared towards preparing students for entrance exams has skyrocketed. Nearly 95% of high school students have smart phones, thus giving them access to these study apps.

One popular app is called “Study Plus,” and the company estimates that over 200,000 students nationwide use this app. Given that many students have positive experiences with these apps as well as the fact that smart phones are becoming the main platform through which most communication is completed, it is likely that the number of educational apps will only continue to grow and their features continue to expand.

It is no surprise then that improvements in smart phone accessories have been made to make this type of studying easier. Stylus pens have become very popular add-ons for written exercises. In addition, book publishers have digitized all of the paper materials so that students can access practice problems, answer keys, and explanation videos all through their phone.

On exam day last year, even on their way to the exam, students were trying to get in one last study session via the Study Plus App. Although most students appreciate the convenience of being able to watch explanation videos on their phones and find productive ways to use the time they spend commuting, some students say they are tempted to use their phone for gaming or social purposes. Additional students commented that having control of explanation videos allowed them to process the material at their own pace and review important or difficult concepts as many times as necessary.

Of course, the use of these apps cannot guarantee success on the exams or in general studies, but the creation of these apps allows students for greater educational opportunities and mediums that suit their individual learning styles.


EDU-JPN:Tis the Season…for the Flu

Education in Japan (Natalie Collor)

In most places, the influenza virus is hard to avoid, even though many people receive a yearly vaccine to improve their odds of contracting the virus. Japan is no different, but its schools have measures in place to help prevent large-scale spreading of the virus.

One tactic most schools have in place is to ‘suspend’ students if the number of students with the virus is between 20% and 33% of the whole homeroom class. For three to five days, students are not allowed to come to school. Unlike the American use of ‘suspend,’ this action does not punish students or reflect badly on their academic record. They simply stay at home and do whatever homework they are able to without attending class and, for some, while managing sickness. In terms of the schoolwide spread of the virus, if just 10% of students in a specific grade to contract influenza, the whole grade will be suspended for a short period of time. Since the influenza virus is spread very easily through skin-to-skin contact, school administrators believe the best way to prevent mass spreading throughout schools is to suspend students in the given ways.

Although January and February are typically thought of as flu season, there were schools in Gunma Prefecture that announced the first cases of influenza spreading as early as November of 2017. There were several schools that suspended individual classes and whole grades, so flu season is already well underway in Japan.

While students may be quick to celebrate this guilt-free suspension which allows them to stay at home to rest, watch TV, or play video games, teachers are not as pleased when their students are suspended. They cannot move forward with the material according to the curriculum when all students are missing, therein making homework very repetitive. Teachers may appreciate having an extra break period or two, given the busy day-to-day workload, but the result of numerous cancelled classes due to the suspension puts them in a difficult position. The more students that are missing, the less teachers are actually able to accomplish during the school day. No matter how long the students are missing from school, they are expected to finish the standard curriculum for each subject by the end of the school year, which means teachers have to find ways to add in make-up classes and homework assignments. This situation reflects the snow day phenomenon in American schools, where students are happy to have time off in the winter, but unhappy to be making everything up during the dog days of summer.


EDU-JPN:How Influenza Affects Exam Season

Education in Japan (Natalie Collor)

Once the new calendar year begins in Japan, and sometimes even before, many middle and high school students’ minds are occupied with thoughts of one thing: university entrance exams. A previous post has addressed the specifics of the exam schedule and the vigorous preparation these students undergo to score well on the standardized exams. However, an additional variable at play in exam season is, in fact, influenza.

Not only is the number of third-year middle and high school students who receive the vaccine more than any other grade level, but it is also very likely that these students do not receive the vaccine every year. Students and parents in Japan know the importance of being well during the exam, not to mention the months leading up to it; therefore, they do all they can to prevent contracting the virus by getting the vaccine. In some cases, all members in a family are said to get the vaccine in order to protect the examinee. News programs and school nurses also encourage students to wear masks and wash hands regularly as other preventative measures.

Vaccines are not a guarantee, however, and as the importance of entrance exams grows, so does the necessity of students being able to take the exam in a healthy state. Despite taking all the preventative measures leading up to the exam, some students still end up sick during the exam day. A makeup test day, which would certainly give those students unable to take the exam due to illness a second chance, is an idea that has recently been implemented by high schools in some regions. Although makeup test days are not available for every high school, this special option for ill students may improve their chances of doing well on the test and gaining admission to the high school of their choice. Each high school offering a makeup test date likely announces the date ahead of time and a corresponding process to follow to register for said test.

Although a similar makeup test day equivalent does not yet exist for college entrance exams, one can only wonder, given the extremely competitive nature of the exams and the unpredictability of contracting illness, if this option will exist in the future.


研究紹介: やりたいこと”がない人はなぜ肩身の狭い思いをするのか(卒業研究)



林 寛平(信州大学)









考察1 社会で求める”やりたいこと”と個人の”やりたいこと”は違う


考察2 “やりたいこと”を表明する場面には権力関係がある


考察3 相互承認のための”やりたいこと”




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  • 一般財団法人日本経済団体連合会(2016)『今後の教育改革に関する基本的考え方―第3期教育振興基本計画の策定に向けて―』
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EDU-JPN: Corporal Punishment in an Aichi Prefectural Elementary School

Education in Japan (Natalie Collor)

Recently, at an elementary school in Toyohashi City, Aichi Prefecture, a male homeroom teacher in his forties was found guilty of physically harming five of his students during a math class. Reports say that the incident occurred while the class was checking answers to an assignment. When many students did not understand the material in the way the teacher explained, he lost his temper and began physically harming his students. He hit a few boys on their heads with rulers. He even smacked one girl’s head against the blackboard. Since the day of this incident, this female student has not been able to return to school. The guilty teacher has publicly apologized for his actions and is currently taking an indefinite leave of absence. 

This incident, however, was not the first time this teacher has been accused of physically harming his students. Two years ago, he pushed a student down, and the student suffered a neck and shoulder injury. Perhaps the teacher was able to keep his job at this time because the boy’s parents and school administrators viewed this incident as an accident, not corporal punishment. 

Investigations related to this violent incident are ongoing, and the Toyohashi City Board of Education is slowly releasing information regarding the events that occurred. Area parents and school employees are no doubt on edge about the future of this teacher’s career in public schools. 


研究紹介: 学校選択制による「平等を目指す競争」の分析

林寛平「スウェーデンにおける学校選択制による学校間成績差抑制モデルの分析-ナッカ市におけるSALSAを活用した予算配分を事例に-」, 日本教育行政学会(編)『教育行政学研究と教育行政改革の軌跡と展望』, 2016, pp.174-179.



 かつて高度に集権化された福祉国家のモデルとみられていたスウェーデンは、1980年代以降の改革を経て脱集権化した国に様変わりした。教育における脱集権化は、学校の自律性を高めることで現場の能力が増し、学習の質が向上するという期待によって推進され(Zajda 2006)、とりわけ規則、財政、権限の側面に大きな変化が見られた(Pierre 2010)。一方、改革の動機には行政運営の効率化もあり、公的部門の民営化と支出削減が並行して進められた (Montin 1992)。この過程において、義務教育費が1990年に国からコミューン(基礎自治体)に移譲され、1992年には学校選択制が導入された。

 これらの改革は教育の「市場化」として分析されることが多い (Björklund et al. 2005)。「市場化」は競争と淘汰を前提とするため、格差拡大と質の低下が危惧されている(Bunar & Sernhede 2013)。学校教育庁の分析でも学校間成績差の拡大が明らかになっている(Skolverket 2012)。一方、国際調査では相対的に平等で公正な教育制度を有すると評価されている(OECD 2015)。また、Kallstenius(2010)は学校選択制により移民生徒がいわゆる「中流スウェーデン人」の集住地区に越境通学することで、学校が多文化になり、統合が促進される面もあると指摘している。現状では、学校選択制が成績差や分離に与える影響についてはコンセンサスが得られていない。

 本稿では、「市場化」の中で競争原理を用いながら平等を促進するナッカ市(Nacka kommun)の事例を検討する。ナッカ市の教育費配分方式は学校選択制を用いて学校間の成績差を抑制するモデルである。市は予算配分を生徒の社会的背景に応じて重みづけすることで、学校の生徒獲得行動を統制している。この安定化効果を通じて「平等を目指す競争」が生じることを期待している。本研究は、2006年から2015年にかけて学校教育庁、学校監査庁、地方自治体組合、ナッカ市、ナッカ市立基礎学校で行った聞き取り調査とナッカ市議会の議事資料に基づいている。