Singapore — Concerned parents launched an online petition urging the Ministry of Education to reconsider the new scoring system of the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) for children exempt from studying mother tongue languages (MTLs).

Marianne Wee set up the petition last Saturday (Aug 10) which has 1,080 signatures as of today (Aug 13). The supporters aim to reach 1,500 signatures.

According to the petition, the MOE’s announcement to change the PSLE scoring system is “overtly unfair” for students who are not taking MTLs and/or those taking Asian or Foreign Languages in place of the MTL.

The MOE explained that each Standard Level PSLE subject will be scored using eight bands known as Achievement Levels (AL) starting from AL1 (the highest score) to AL8.

Additionally, Foundation Level subjects are placed at AL6 to AL8 of the Standard Level subjects.

“A student’s PSLE Score is the sum of the four AL scores across his Standard and Foundation level subjects.”

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The MOE stated that they will be assigning students with an MTL score in order for them to have a PSLE score with four subjects for Secondary 1 posting.

In assigning the MTL score, the MOE will be referring to MTL scores of other students with similar scores in English, maths, and science. The assigned MTL score will, however, range between AL6 to AL8.

“As the score for Foundation Level subjects will be pegged to AL6 to 8, it is again not fair if another student who did not take any MTL examinations at PSLE can be assigned a score better than AL6,” the MOE stated.

“We want our children to focus on their own learning instead of trying to outdo others,” the MOE said regarding the new changes.

Petitioners argue that the new scoring system “places [the children] among the lowest scoring students in the subject, and will affect the rest of their grades for PSLE.”

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They add that such changes provide a “severe handicap” to the children’s future in Secondary School and beyond.

According to the petition, supporting parents “believe there are more accurate ways to create a grade for exempt students MTL without disadvantaging them before they’ve taken a single exam.”

The policy is set to be implemented in 2021./TISG