Education authorities have pledged to help a student in eastern China who fears he could miss out on enrollment at a top high school because of an error by a teacher during the application process.
Zhang Chaoyang, 16, had hoped to enroll at Huoshan High School, one of the best in Anhui province, after scoring 700 out of 820 in the unified high school entrance exams in mid-June.
His dream appeared to be dashed when it was discovered that a teacher had changed his application without parental permission, thereby reducing his chances of securing a spot at the school.
Anhui students take a standard exam but rural students can apply only to high schools in their county or district. Top scorers overall make up 20 percent of Huoshan High School's intake, while the best performers at each middle school are accepted based on a quota, known as direct enrollment.
The system is designed to give students from less-developed areas equal access to a good education. However, students must choose one or both recruitment options on their applications.
"We told our son to apply for both options," said Zhang Decai, Chaoyang's father.
But he said that when his son was completing the application on a computer at the private Wenfeng Middle School, a teacher named Mao, who was guiding the applicants, said Chaoyang's test score was high enough to qualify on that track alone. The teacher "deleted the direct enrollment option without our permission", the father said.
With the benchmark for top scorers in this year's exam expected to be 716, the deletion means Zhang Chaoyang could miss out on both opportunities to attend the school.
In an interview with an Anhui TV station, Mao acknowledged his mistake and said he had thought the student's score would be enough to put him among the exam's best performers overall.
Shao Wenxi, director of student recruitment at the Huoshan county education bureau, told China Daily that his office will do its best to convince authorities to change the student's application so he can get into Huoshan High School.
The final enrollment lists will be released in the last week of July.
Local authorities said Wenfeng Middle School and the teacher will be punished, potentially with the loss of performance bonuses and a temporary block on promotions.