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Okinawa students again wind up last in achievement tests

Date Posted: 2008-09-05

Okinawa’s sixth grade students failed again on a series of eight tests, finishing at the bottom of Japan’s prefectures.

The National Achievement Test surveyed 16,503 students at 272 schools in Okinawa during April, testing the 6th grade elementary school and first year middle school youngsters on mother language, math, arithmetic and five other subjects. In every examination, Okinawan kids finished last. The results were a repeat of last year’s National Achievement Tests, when Okinawa also finished in last place.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology says Okinawa’s largest deficiency was in middle school math, were results were 13.5 points lower than the nationwide average. Local youngsters were closest to the national average in native Japanese language skills, falling 5.4 points below the standard. The 2007 and 2008 tests were the first administered in Okinawa in 43 years.

“We were just thinking about the results and provisions of being in last place, and how to increase test scores,” says the chairman of the Okinawa Prefecture Board of Education. Morikazu Nakamura says “we need to car at school, at home, and in all areas, on how to boost the results of the tests.”

The Prefecture Board of Education, concerned about standardized test results, has been doing some lifestyle research of its own, trying to determine how children’s lives and study habits are impacted by social standards. Asked if they eat breakfast in the morning, 83.4% of Okinawan kids said yes, compared with the national average 87.1%. Asked if students tell their parents what takes place at school, 64% said yes, against the national average of 69.3%. On the question of simple greetings courtesy, do you say hello to neighbors, Okinawa children scored 10 points below the national average.

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