P5 pupils to be graded on new PSLE system
New system aims to reduce differentiation at a young age and recognise pupils' abilities regardless of how their peers do
Primary 5 pupils next year will be graded on the new Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) scoring system, the Ministry of Education (MOE) announced yesterday.
This is to familiarise them with the new system when they sit for the exam in 2021.
The new system will grade pupils on eight Achievement Levels (AL) - from AL 1, the best score, to AL 8, instead of the current grade system of A* to E, with U being ungraded.
Pupils will also be given their total AL score. This is the sum of the scores for their four subjects - English, mother tongue language, mathematics and science - which, if it was the PSLE exam, would be a pupil's final score to decide which secondary school he will be posted to.
The AL score can range from 4, the best, to 32, with a total of 29 possible variations.
This is unlike the current T-score grading system for the PSLE, which has over 200 variations, according to MOE.
The switch to the new AL system aims to reduce differentiation at a young age and recognise the pupils' level of achievement regardless of how their peers have done, MOE added.
The changes - which include the scrapping of the current T-score grading system in 2021 - were announced in 2016 as part of MOE's plans to shift away from an overemphasis on grades and reduce differentiation and competition among pupils.
MOE yesterday also unveiled details on how pupils taking foundation level subjects will be graded in the new PSLE system.
Foundation subjects, which cater to those who are weaker in a particular subject, carry a lighter workload and have a less demanding curriculum.
Under the new AL system, foundation subjects will be graded on three bands - ALA to ALC, instead of the current five bands of Grade 1 to Grade U.
The three bands will correspond to AL 6, 7, and 8 of the new PSLE system, with ALA mapped to AL 6, B to AL 7, and C to AL 8.
Commenting on the changes, MOE's director-general of education Wong Siew Hoong said: "This new PSLE scoring system is part of the broader shift the system needs to make in reducing the overemphasis on examination results and grades so we can make time and space for our students to be developed holistically."
He added that announcements in recent months - the reduction of school examinations and scrapping of streams in secondary school - all complement the new PSLE scoring system in moving the educational experience of students forward.
MOE also announced details on a pupil's eligibility for higher mother tongue in secondary school.
Pupils who score an overall PSLE score of 8 or better, or score between 9 and 14 and do well for mother tongue or higher mother tongue in the PSLE, can take the subject in secondary school.
Schools can also offer the subject to students who have the aptitude and the interest.
In addition, MOE announced that Primary6 pupils in 2021 will be given the cut-off entry scores of all secondary schools based on the new scoring system in the first half of 2021.
This is to give them and their parents more time to choose secondary schools.
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Parents and educators welcome new move by MOE
Parents and educators welcomed the changes to the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) scoring system, saying the increased transparency will help ease stress placed on pupils.
Yesterday, the Ministry of Education (MOE) revealed more details on scoring for pupils taking Foundation level subjects in Primary school (see other report).
Madam Jayapriya Sankarasubbu's daughter, Harini Djanaguiraman, 14, was offered mathematics and science at the Foundation level when she was in North Spring Primary School.
But in secondary school, Harini was offered three subjects at a more challenging level.
Madam Jayapriya, 39, said: "Harini is very strong in her other subjects.
"If she knew that back in primary school that she could go into a better stream if she did well, it may have spurred her to do even better and acted as encouragement for her."
Principals The New Paper spoke to said it is not clear how pupils taking Foundation subjects will be graded in the PSLE, so this new transparent system will help parents to be less resistant to their children taking Foundation level subjects.
Mrs Rabia Shahul, principal of Evergreen Primary School, said some parents may be anxious when their child has to take a Foundation subject in school because there are certain misconceptions surrounding the idea of taking the subject at a lower level.
She said: "Parents see it as a stream, and not a progression. But with the new system, we can now see clearly how even a child who is taking more than one Foundation subject can also advance to take it at a higher level in Secondary school, if he or she does well."
Associate professor of Policy and Leadership studies at the National Institute of Education Dr Jason Tan said parents may now start to strategise and they need to be very clear on how the system works to put their child at an advantage.
He said: "Teachers now have to carry a greater responsibility to advise these parents how to help their child move forward."