Sunday, August 18, 2013

ND Rally: PSLE scoring system to be overhauled - Channel News Asia

SINGAPORE: Major changes are in the pipeline for Singapore's education system -- the scoring system for the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) will be overhauled.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the PSLE will be scored differently to give space to educate and develop students more holistically.

The PSLE T-score is an aggregate that shows how a student performed in comparison to his peers.

Mr Lee said: "I don't know what my PSLE grade is. I think many of you who are my age don't know what your PSLE grade is either. Because when I took the PSLE nearly 50 years ago in 1963, the scores were confidential. MOE never told anybody the scores. The students were only told whether they had passed or failed, and which school they had been posted to.

"So we were all gathered in the carpark at Nanyang waiting anxiously while the teachers went through the list, and tallied up who passed and who failed, and then came out after a very long wait and told us who passed who failed. Luckily, I passed."

Fifty years on, the PSLE is often a family affair -- it is one of the most important examinations that parents and students said causes tremendous stress.

However, Mr Lee said even those who do not like the PSLE could not find a better way to post students to secondary schools and have reluctantly agreed to keep the system unchanged.

Mr Lee highlighted the issue of how a one-point difference in T-score, for example between 230 and 231, may make a difference to the secondary school posting.

"It's a distinction which is meaningless, too fine to make... Who is going to grow up abler, more committed, more capable, a better contributor to society?

"At age 12, you can guess but you cannot tell. Certainly, you cannot tell based on a one point difference and I don't think we should decide on secondary school postings based on such fine distinctions."

Thus, instead of having the T-score, the PSLE will be scored using the wider bands for grades like those used in the 'O' and 'A' Level examinations.

Mr Lee said it will reduce excessive competition to chase that last point -- an A* is still an A*, whether one scores 91 marks or 99 marks. Mr Lee said this will give space to educate and develop students holistically.

However, the changes will not be immediate -- Mr Lee said this will take several years.
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