August 13, 2010

High School Seniors Compete in Children Swim Meets to Raise Gaokao Scores

Translation: 浙江多名高三生参加小学生游泳赛获高考加分

"It is obvious from the results and rules of the 2010 Zhejiang Province 30th Spring Festival Cup for Children that they [the high school students] are just in the competition to receive national second-level athlete certification," said Mr. Lin from Hangzhou, who provided evidence for this year's gaokao fraud in Zhejiang.

Since Zhejiang appears reluctant to penalize the 63 students who received extra points on gaokao for dubious athletic merits, Mr. Lin felt obligated to do something: "My conscience and social responsibility demand that I speak up. Only then can more Zhejiang gaokao fraud cases be exposed."

Mr Lin stated his opinion to China Youth Daily: "I am not without ability and connections to make my son national second-level athlete and get extra gaokao points. In fact, I had to repeatedly decline offers from kind friends, school officials and teachers. I do not wish my son to raise his gaokao score in such a way."

In the 2010 Zhejiang Spring Festival Cup, the age groups are 14 (born 1996), 13, 12, 11, and 10 and younger (those born 2000 or later). Participants are forbidden to compete outside his/her group.

Yet, 2010 names list published by Zhejiang Ministry of Education reveals the following: Chen from Ningbo Yinzhou High School (鄞州中学), Ying from Yinzhou Wuxiang High School (鄞州五乡中学), Jia from Ningbo No. 2 High school, Zheng from Hangzhou No. 9 High School, Liu from Westlake Advanced High School (西湖高级中学), Zhao from Jinhua Pujiang High School (金华市浦江中学), Ou from Wenzhou No. 51 High School and several others all entered the 2010 Spring Festival Cup Winter Swim Competition for Children, and subsequently got 20 additional points on the national college entrance exam.

"Most high school seniors were born in 1991 or 1992. That poses an obvious problem because the 2010 Spring Festival Cup required participants to be born in the 1996 to 2000 time frame." Mr. Lin said, "These twelfth grade 'big brothers' and 'big sisters' are competing with junior high school and elementary school children. What a grand joke. The whole process is an outright fraud to fake gaokao scores."

Additionally, China Youth Daily discovered that 4 other students (Ji, Yu from Jiaxing Pinghu High School, Lu from Pinghu Danghu Advanced High School, and Zhu from Hangzhou No. 2 High School) improved their exam scores by entering or placing first in the 2009 championship game. Chen from Ningbo High School participated in the 2008 championship swim competition.

China Youth Daily reporter verified that both 2008 and 2009 required athletes to be at most 14 and forbade competition outside one's own age group. The five students just mentioned are far older, and, without exception, they registered for swim competitions a few months prior to gaokao.

China Youth Daily reporter was unable to find these older students' registration forms. Netizen"feiyang" who is acquainted with the situation told the reporter: "Those gaokao students pertain to a special group that 'hitch rides' to competitions."

The reporter found some clues in the competition rules: qualified athletes may apply ahead of time as long as they pay 100 yuan per category or 150 for all around at registration. They must produce their resident identity cards at the competition. And students who register through this venue should make a note in their paperwork.

To give more examples of how the fraud machine is run, during the 2010 Spring Festival Cup, Jia swam alone during the Female 50 m Butterfly. Ou only competed with one other child during 50 m Backstroke. High school seniors Liu and Zheng were the only two people to show up at 100 m Freestyle. Chen in Male 50 meter Breaststroke and Ying in 50 m Butterfly each competed with two other kids. At the most, Zhao during 50 m Backstroke saw 5 competitors.

Ou from Wenzhou No. 51 High School completed her 50 meter in 43.60 seconds. This was slower than the 42.42 second performance by fellow athlete, a 14 year old girl finishing last during 50 m backstroke (all around group) and was thus disqualified.

According to the October 1, 2005 national standards concerning athlete skill levels, to apply for any swimming recognition or to qualify as national second-level athletes, a person must have competed in city-wide and more advanced official swim events. The person must also meet certain performance standards. Ou fell short of the national time of 38.50 by 5.10 seconds. But in the 2010 Spring Festival Cup results published by Zhejiang Sports Administration, her time was listed as 34.7 seconds.

"With no competition, it is dubious how motivated these high school students were to perform. People don't even bother modify the times, and this remission is what exposed them." Mr. Lin pointed out.

The 100 or 150 yuan registration fees are only tip of the iceberg. One coach who had contacted Mr. Lin various times said: "Your son just has to go through a little training and participate in one competition. You can even hire another person to swim for him. We merely need some record of time to apply for national second-level athlete status. The total cost is around 20,000 yuan."

"Athleticism fraud in gaokao is tightly associated with special interests. The waters are just too deep." Mr. Lin has high hopes that the government together with public criticism will make the testing environment more just and fair.

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