China has earned a notorious image of having a cut-throat education system, where the students are expected to excel with flying colors in a nerve-wrecking yearly exam known as Gaokao. In a bid to give their students a respite from the intense pressure, a school in Nanjing has come up with a unique concept.
They have introduced a marks borrowing system called a “Grade Bank,” which allows the students who narrowly missed a grade to “borrow” some points so that they can pass exams.
The bank gives out a “loan” of marks to the students who are about to fail a course by a few points. Just like regular banks, the “clients” will have to pay back the loan on time, with interest. Thus, these students will need to pass the exams along with scoring some extra points in the future.
Some students also get a chance of paying back these loans by conducting lab experiments or through giving public speeches. Students, who are unsuccessful in paying back their loan grades in time, are blacklisted by the bank. The blacklisted students thus, do not get to take out these ‘loans’ in the future.
Mei Hong, who is a physics teacher at Nanjing No 1 High School thinks that the bank offers pupils a second chance. She told the Yangtze Evening Post,
“59 points and 60 points are actually not that different. [But because the former means failing the exam while the latter means passing], the difference weighs heavily on students’ psyches. So instead of failing the exam, the student can just borrow that 1 point required to pass, just as long as they agree to pay it back, with interest.”
One pupil surnamed Zhu commented on the system,
“I was sick before the mid-term exams and missed several geography classes. I failed the exam, so I am glad the “grades bank” gave me a chance to fix that.”
The grade bank is currently in its initial stage which started in November 2016. The school has allowed only the 10th-grade Advanced Placement class to avail the facility, and 13 out of the total 49 pupils have already borrowed marks from the bank.
Kan Huang, the director of the school, explained that the introduction of the ‘grade bank’ allows the students to put more emphasis on intellectual growth rather than focusing completely on better performance in a standardized test. He mentioned that the current exam system had created conditions where
“a pupil’s entire future is determined by a single major exam.”
Huang told the Yangtze Evening Post,
“Examinations should be more about improving the learning process, instead of a tool which is used to give students a hard time.”
While most of the people are praising the grade bank; some are a bit more skeptical. For example, education expert Xiong Bingqi thinks that the loan system is “improper” for marking exams, although he admits that it can decrease the pressure on students.
Do you think the Grade Bank would be an effective way to help students learn, or do you think handing out marks in an exam in exchange for some unrelated activity will lead to ineptness in the subject matter?