My research focuses mainly on the relationship between post-war social shifts and the mechanism of admissions to educational institutions in Japan. University entrance examination has been one of the key reasons why I wanted to advance this research. When I was still young, I had written a paper, titled “College Admission by High School Recommendation and the Selection Systems for Mass Higher Education” (The Japan Society of Educational Sociology Ed. Journal of Educational Sociology No. 59), which is still cited by researches today, 25 years after its publication. In this paper, I proposed the classifications “elite selection” and “mass selection” to categorize the selection systems of university entrance examination in Japan in relation to the structural change called the massification of education. At the time, this was only a hypothetical proposition. However, subsequent research has proved that it is more or less commensurate with reality.
In the recent chaos resulting from efforts to reform university entrance examination, comments about the selection process of university admissions from the perspective of the elite alone were being accepted. Furthermore, careless arguments that ignored the importance of the massification of education went unchallenged. Arguments that “reform is necessary to change the preexisting overemphasis on knowledge in entrance exams” or that “high school students will study if we change the entrance exams” were typical examples of this. After feeling a sense of impending crisis about the situation in which current research trends have hardly been taken into account, I began to express my views. I looked around and learned that researchers in other fields are likewise concerned about the fact that the importance of specialized knowledge has hardly been taken into account in the reform efforts. It was a situation in which English language education, research on the examination system, the research on the high school and university articulation system, and test theory were affirmed.
This situation has gradually improved as experts and teachers across all grade levels voiced their opinions. Nevertheless, the improvements are still receiving a backlash in the media. Therefore, I thought it necessary to exhort experts in various fields that are related to university entrance examination to write articles to share essential knowledge for each discussion topic related to university entrance examination policies. That was how this book came together.
I hope many people will read this book, so that the same mistakes will not be repeated.
(Written by NAKAMURA Takayasu, Professor, Graduate School of Education / 2021)