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Parents call out “new kind of stress” in new PSLE scoring system for students aiming top grades, though benefiting average students

“Education institutes should be a safe haven for kids of all ages to learn, driven by their passion and interests. You don't have to be at the top; you simply have to be a better You.” — Sze Chan, FB netizen

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Singapore — A total of 98.4 per cent of the students who took the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) this year under the new scoring system will go on to secondary school, it was announced on Wednesday.

Parents with children who sat for the PSLE exams this year have highlighted a new kind of stress for students aiming for top grades at the Achievement Level (AL) range.

The new AL scoring system, introduced over the past few years, aims to make the PSLE exams less finely differentiated.

“We made a deliberate shift away from the old T-score system, so students do not chase the last mark. An obsessive over-emphasis on exam results is not healthy for the development of our children,” said the Ministry of Education’s director-general of education, Wong Siew Hoong.

Under the new system, AL scores range from 1 to 8 for each of the four subjects, with 1 being the highest and 8 the lowest.

The sum of these AL scores will be the students’ overall score, yielding about 29 possible scores, compared with the previous T-score system which had around 200 variations.

There were mixed responses from parents after the first cohort of students under the new system got their results.

Parents told Channel News Asia that their children were “very stressed” and upset with their scores, despite their not being technically on the lower end of the scale.

With scores between 45 and 64 marks receiving an AL6, 85 to 89 for AL2, and scores higher than 90 equating an AL1, the narrower range at the top AL bands could affect the overall score because a single number difference can put the student’s standing an entire AL band lower.

“The good thing is you won’t actually see someone being the top scorer. No one will say this person has scored 289, and this person is the best student. Anyone who does well will be getting  FOUR points,” a mother toLD CNA.

“But this makes it more difficult to get into schools. More people aim for the schools with four to six points (indicative score range), and how are they going to differentiate them?”

On the other end, parents admitted that the new scoring system gave average students an advantage.

“The broad base, the bottom ones, get to be escalated a little bit higher. The top will still remain on the top, but I think it benefits more of the average learners,” one mother said after seeing her child’s results.

In response to the news, members of the online community highlighted varying opinions on the new scoring system.

“Yes, the new scoring system affects minimal for the top students, but it broadens the options for average performing students. And I think that’s a positive thing,” noted Facebook user Leza Klenk who had one child who took the PSLE and another daughter who will be taking the exams.

“My son sat (FOR THE) PSLE last year, and his score won’t make much difference with the new scoring system. He had an A and rest A*. But this will really benefit my daughter, who is sitting for PSLE next year. She isn’t academic inclined, and I just want more options for her. So I am excited about where she can go with this new system next year,” the mother added.

Meanwhile, others highlighted the importance of the experience more than the exam scores.

“Education institutes should be a safe haven for kids of all ages to learn, driven by their passion and interests,” noted Facebook user Sze Chan.

“You don’t have to be at the top; you simply have to be a better You. By embracing this positively, the next generation will hopefully extend this graciousness to their future workplace, so our entire labour force becomes more variedly vibrant and opportunities become abound for areas that Singapore isn’t serving today. As an employer of the future, I would focus on the learnings that this journey has empowered and taught the kids,” he added. /TISG

Read related: Parents call to revamp Ministry of Education over PSLE concerns, comments on Chan Chun Sing’s FB post

Parents call to revamp Ministry of Education over PSLE concerns, comments on Chan Chun Sing’s FB post

 

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