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Okinawa students tank latest scholastic tests

Date Posted: 2009-09-04

For the third year in a row, Okinawa elementary and junior high school students have tested so poorly that Okinawa Prefecture ranks worst in the nation.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, along with the Okinawa Prefecture Board of Education, announced the bad news about the nationwide scholastic abilities test conducted in April. Taking the academic exams in Arithmetic, Mathematics and Japanese language this year were elementary school sixth graders and third year junior high school students across Japan.

Okinawa had 263 elementary schools with 15,862 students, and 157 junior high schools with 15,528 students participating in the scholastic examinations. Japanese language testing found Okinawa kids more than five points below the national average, 64.5% compared with the nationwide average of 69.9%.

Mathematics scores were slightly closer to the national average, with Okinawa students registering 77.1% compared to the Japan-wide 79%. The “past three years was a big difference and point spreads were so wide,” the chairman of the board of education noted, “but there was a little shrinkage in the correct answer average.” Studies are now being made to determine the effect of home studies or after school Juku classes, which operate more hours on Okinawa than elsewhere in Japan. Officials say they’re even considering Okinawa’s lifestyle and slower life pace, as well as the limited sense of competition here, as reasons for the lower test scores.

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