These urban students are likely to do far better in national tests than their rural counterparts where teachers and facilities are lacking. PATTARAPONG CHATPATTARASILL
Mathayom 6 (Grade 12) students failed eight out of nine subjects on average in the 2016 national tests. Something needs to be done, but unclear data is making the task more difficult.
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Poor test scores spur reform bid
Results reflect stark rural, urban divide
The persistent failing of core subject examinations by Thai students, despite higher budgets every year, reflects glaring discrepancies in the country’s education, according to specialists.
The results of the 2016 national tests in nine core subjects for Mathayom 6 (Grade 12) students organised by the National Institute of Educational Testing Service (Niets) show that Thai students failed eight out of nine subjects on average.
Of nine core subjects, each comprising a total of 100 marks, Thai had the highest average score at 56.65, while the mean results for the other eight subjects — Social Science, English, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Mathematics 1, Mathematics 2 and General Sciences — were less than 50.
The last two subjects were introduced in the tests for the first time this year, increasing the subjects to nine from seven in previous years.
A total of 179,968 students participated in the tests.
Sompong Jitradup, a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University's faculty of education, said the exams for the nine core subjects were designed to evaluate students who applied for admission at 27 universities nationwide.
Since the universities consider applicants based on their scores for admission, the exam is considered one of the most important and difficult tests.
"Students who have never used tutorial services would find the exam too difficult for them to finish within two hours. I think most students just guessed the answers they did not know," Mr Sompong said.
Still, Mr Sompong said the public should not jump to the conclusion that the competence of all Thai students is poor based on these test results as some students also got perfect scores in several subjects while very few got zeros in the tests.
"In my opinion, I think we should not pay much attention to the average scores of the tests of the nine subjects as they may not reflect the true performance of Thai students," Mr Sompong said.
"Most concerns arising from the exam results are about the inequality and discrepancies in the Thai education system as this can be seen by the wide gap between the scores of urban and rural students," he said.
According to World Bank data, the level of knowledge among rural students in Thailand is about three years behind students in urban areas due to the lack of qualified teachers and because rural students cannot pay for private tutors.
Amornvit Nakornthap, an education academic and former spokesman of the Education Ministry, said revealing just the average scores in nine core subjects is quite useless.
He suggested that Niets classify the scores according to area or the size of the school.
The poor scores are believed to be from small schools mostly in rural areas while most students in urban areas and from leading schools are believed to have got higher scores, Mr Amornvit said.
"The inequality in the education system is the biggest issue,” he said.
The scores should be clearly classified between urban students, rural students, students at leading schools and students at small schools so the data can be much more useful, he said.
"If we know in which specific areas students have problems, the government can use its resources and budget to target those places. But the data we have got today is quite useless," he said.
Mr Amornvit said Thailand at present has about 15,000 smaller schools in rural areas that have less than 120 students each.
Most teachers in such smaller schools usually only spend about two years teaching before submitting requests to be transferred to more developed areas.
Learn from listening
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academic : someone who teaches at a college, or who studies as part of their job - นักวิชาการ
admission (noun): selecting students to attend a school or university - การรับเข้า
applicant : someone who applies for something, such as a job or a loan of money - ผู้สมัคร,ผู้แจ้งความจำนง,ผู้ขอ
at present (adv): now...., currently .... - ในปัจจุบัน
budget : an amount of money able to be spent on something - งบประมาณ
classify : to divide things into groups according to their type - จัดประเภท
competence (noun): the ability to do something well - ความสามารถ
comprise : to consist or be made up of two or more things - ประกอบด้วย
concerns : worries - ความกังวล
consider : to give careful thought to something before making a decision - พิจารณา
considered (verb): regarded as; thought of as - ถือว่า
core (noun): the most important or central part of something - ใจกลาง, แกน, ใจความสำคัญ
data : facts or information, especially when examined and used to find out things or to make decisions - ข้อมูล, ตัวเลข, สถิติ
developed (adj): (of a country, society, etc.) having many industries and a complicated economic system - ที่พัฒนาแล้ว
discrepancy : a difference between two or more things that should be the same - ความแตกต่างกันระหว่างสองสิ่งที่ควรจะเหมือนกัน
due to : because of - เนื่องจาก
evaluate : to form an opinion about something after thinking about/examining it carefully - ประเมิน
faculty : a group of departments in a college or university which specialise in a particular subject or group of subjects - คณะ
gap (noun): a difference between people or groups - ช่องว่าง
glaring : very obvious; very clear - สว่าง เจิดจ้า
guess : to try and give an answer or make a judgement about something without being sure of all the facts - เดา
inequality : a situation in which people are not equal because some groups have more opportunities, power, money etc than others - ความไม่เสมอภาค
institute (noun): an organization that has a particular purpose, especially one that is connected with education or a particular profession; the building used by this organisation - สถาบัน,องค์การ,วิทยาลัย,สถาบันหนึ่งของมหาวิทยาลัย
issue : a problem that needs to be considered - ประเด็น
jump to the conclusion (idiom): to quickly decide about something without carefully considering the facts - ด่วนตัดสินใจ, รีบตัดสินใจเร็วเกินไป
lack of : when there is not enough of something - ขาด
lecturer (noun): a teacher at a university or college - อาจารย์ผู้บรรยาย
mean : an amount that is calculated by adding several numbers together and dividing the total by the original number of things that you added together - ค่าเฉลี่ย, ตัวกลาง, มัชฌิม
ministry : a government department that has a particular area of responsibility - กระทรวง
nationwide : throughout a whole country - ทั่วทั้งประเทศ
on average : calculated by adding several amounts together, finding a total, and dividing the total by the number of amounts - โดยเฉลี่ย
opinion : your feelings or thoughts about somebody/something, rather than a fact - ความเห็น, ความคิดเห็น, ทัศนคติ
performance (noun): the standard to which someone/something does something - การกระทำ, การแสดง, การทำให้บรรลุผลสำเร็จ
persistent : continuing - อย่างต่อเนื่อง
private : intended for or involving a particular person or group of people, not for people in general - ส่วนตัว
qualified (adj): able to do something, because you have the knowledge, skill, or experience that is needed - มีคุณวุฒิเหมาะสม, มีคุณสมบัติ
reflect : to show - สะท้อน แสดงถึง
request : an act of asking for something in a formal or polite way - การขอร้อง
resources : things such as money, workers and equipment that can be used to help achieve something - ทรัพยากร
reveal : to let something become known - เปิดเผย
rural : connected with the countryside outside big towns and cities - ในชนบท, บ้านนอก
specialist : a person who is an expert in a particular area of work or study - ผู้ชำนาญเฉพาะทาง
specific : detailed and exact - โดยเฉพาะ, เฉพาะเจาะจง
stark : clear, often in an unpleasant or frightening way - ทนโท่ ชัดเจน
submit : to formally give something to someone so that can make a decision about it - ยื่น (เอกสาร) เพื่อการพิจารณา
suggest : to mention an idea or a plan for somebody else to think about - เสนอ, เสนอแนะ
target : to direct something at someone or something - ตั้งเป้าหมาย
the public : people in general - ประชาชน, สาธารณชน, มหาชน
transfer (verb): to move from one place to another; change location - ย้าย; โยกย้าย
tutor : a teacher, especially one with special duties - ครูพิเศษ, ครูสอน,
tutorial : instructions on how to do something - การเรียนพิเศษ
urban : connected with towns and cities - เขตเมือง