The Ministry of Education is implementing some significant changes to the PSLE starting 2021: instead of the T-scores, a new grading system called Achievement Levels (ALs) will measure students’ performance. Many parents are concerned over the impact of this drastic change, especially regarding how it can influence the streaming process.
Here are the two main differences of the new PSLE compared to the current one, and Tutopiya’s insight into them:
1) Wider scoring bands to avoid excessively fine differentiation:
One problem of the current PSLE is that students who perform similarly may nevertheless receive different T-scores (e.g. 230 vs. 235), which might lead to different streaming results. The new system, however, will employ 8 bands of Achievement Levels, with AL1 being the best score and AL8 being the lowest score.
Students with similar performance will be grouped in the same band, which can help reduce excessively fine differentiation.
This method will encourage young children to make learning and not marks the focus of their study, since with Als implemented, they will no longer bedifferentiated on the basis of every mark.
2) Removing the bell curve:
Starting 2021, students’ marks will be awarded according to their own performance, and not in comparison to their peers. In the current system, a student may do well in one subject and still receive low T-scores just because his peers perform better. With the new system, however, a child can earn high PSLE scores regardless of how his or her peers perform, as long as he or she can demonstrate mastery over the subject.
This approach is a great improvement as it will reduce stress in both parents and children, when they no longer have to constantly compare themselves to others and create unnecessary competition. As a result, students can now focus on cultivating their own potential instead of trying to out-do one another, allowing them to nurture different aspects of their character.
This way, parents would also have a more objective view of their children’s strengths and weaknesses, which will help them find the most suitable academic path for their children to follow.
Overall, the shift in PSLE grading system promises more balance and less competition in young children, enabling them to pursue other interests besides performing well academically. Potentially, it could also help make the streaming process more organic, by reducing the excessive differentiation and grouping students based on their overall performance and potential.
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