Changes to be implemented to the PSLE grading system
It was announced last year that changes to the current PSLE grading system will be made, and it could happen as early as this week.
We are all used to seeing the numbers on the PSLE certificate, and these numbers determine which secondary schools that our child can get into. However, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced during the 2013 National Day Rally that a major revamp of PSLE grading was in the works.
What changes are being made?
In his speech, PM Lee said that students could be given letter grades and placed in "wider bands" - the way O- and A-level examinations are marked. Most educators and parents hope that the new grading system will be more like the A levels, where the grades are fewer and bands are wider.
In the O levels, which children take at the end of secondary school, grades are divided into A (1,2), B (3,4), C (5,6), D7, E8, and F9. A grade of C6 or better is considered a pass at the O levels.
Grades for the A levels, which students sit at the end of junior college, consist of A, B, C, D, E, S and U - with S signifying an O-level pass but an A-level fail. The PSLE also provides grades A*, A, B, C, D, E and U, but these matter less compared to the aggregate score.
An issue that educators raised is whether the new PSLE grading method will be based on a child's actual score, or will the score be weighted against those of his or her peers.
The current aggregate system does exactly that, and it involves working out a child's so-called T-score for each subject - English, Mother Tongue, Mathematics or Science - by ranking his score within the cohort.
Reactions to these changes
Many parents have expressed their complaints about the current PSLE grading system, including parent Lee Kah Cheng, a 37-year-old IT manager with a 7-year-old son. He said, "Our kids should not be defined by a single score and have their future determined by that."
Though there are parents and educators against the current PSLE aggregate score, some parents feel that it provides a clear-cut system for allocating pupils to secondary schools, which set cut-off points depending on applications.
A one-point difference in aggregate score may mean that a child is posted to one secondary school instead of another - too fine a sieve according to many, but there are those who believe it is fair and provides transparency.
Said 44-year-old housewife Lydia Sim, who has two daughters aged 11 and 13: "The aggregate score doesn't leave room for speculation. Those who work harder to achieve better marks than their peers should not be robbed of a chance at entering good schools."
News Source: The Straits Times