Board of Education doesn’t want students to be penalized for times when missing school is necessary.

High school isn’t part of compulsory education in Japan, so even students wanting to attend public high schools have to formally apply and get accepted before they can start taking classes. In Gifu Prefecture, though, the application process is going to be getting a little less stressful, thanks to a new regulation under which public high schools will no longer be told how many days an applicant was absent from class during middle school.

Japan, famously, has entrance exams for high school. That doesn’t mean that acceptance or rejection to a school is solely dependent on a student’s test score. In Gifu, applications for public high schools are evaluated taking into account both the applicant’s entrance exam score and their middle school transcript, and pp until now, those transcripts have included the number of days the student missed class. Ostensibly, this data was considered worthwhile to include as an indicator of a student’s dedication to learning. All else equal, fewer absences would, ostensibly, indicate a more earnest, harder-working pupil.

However, in reality things aren’t always so cut and dry. Middle school lasts for three years, enough time that even the most studious kids may very well meet with circumstances that, through no fault of their own, prevent them from attending class. No matter how strong a love for learning you have, if you’ve got a severe illness or other serious medical condition, you’d best keep yourself at home until you’ve sufficiently recovered. Or maybe it’s not you, but instead a family member who needs urgent short-term assistance or care.

In light of scenarios like these, the Japanese national government’s Ministry of Education has asked schools to reconsider whether or not numbers of absences really need to be included on transcripts sent to high schools as part of students’ application packages. The Gifu Board of Education has decided they don’t, and this week announced that it will be removing the information from middle school transcripts sent to public high schools as of the next application season, which will be next spring.

There’s some pretty sound logic behind the revised policy. The whole point of high schools reviewing transcripts is to gauge the applicant’s academic performance up to this point, in order to help determine whether or not they’ll be scholastically successful at the high school they wish to attend. So really, the potential problem isn’t the number of absences, but the possibility that a large number of absences has limited the student’s learning progress. If the number of absences actually did have a detrimental effect, though, then that should be reflected in the student’s grades, which will still be included on their transcript. The number of absences really is incidental.

▼ And that’s not even getting into the subject that “in class” doesn’t always equal “paying attention and learning.”

Whether a specific goal of the revision or not, the new transcript format will also be of benefit to students who have kept up their studies while missing a large number of in-class days due to mental health issues such as stress or bullying. Even for those not grappling with such difficulties, eliminating the potential for absences to become a permanent negative marks against them will hopefully lesson the pressure on kids to push themselves beyond what their minds/bodies can handle, and make them, and their parents, more amenable to them taking a day off when they need one.

Under the previous format, the reason for student absences was also included in the transcripts, but the new version will do away with the section entirely. “We decided upon this change to the format so that individual applicants will not be put at a disadvantage based on their number of absences,” said a spokesperson for the Gifu Board of Education.

Gifu’s decision follows similar revisions made by Tokyo, Osaka, and three other prefectures that went into effect for the 2023 academic year, but it becomes the first prefecture in the Tokai region to abolish reporting absences on transcripts for public high school applications.

Source: NHK News Web, CBC News via Livedoor News via Jin
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