In yearly ritual, parents crash website in bid to compare top PSLE scores

In yearly ritual, parents crash website in bid to compare top PSLE scores
A screenshot of this year's ranking of top PSLE scores from the Kiasu Parents website.
Published: 9:27 PM, November 24, 2016
Updated: 11:40 PM, November 24, 2016

SINGAPORE — Hours after this year’s Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) results were released on Thursday (Nov 24), the process of compiling “rankings” kicked in – with parents logging onto popular online forum Kiasu Parents to share T-scores. This caused the website to crash at times due to “capacity problems” as it received three times its usual traffic”.

Yet, data-hungry parents remained undeterred and tried to pin down, by 9pm Thursday, the highest T-scores in 22 out of 190 primary schools, with the highest score of 283 coming from a Nanyang Primary School student.

The fascination with aggregate scores still continues although it has been five years since the Ministry of Education stopped announcing PSLE’s top scorers and their T-scores to remove the spotlight on academic grades.

Madam Soon Lee Yong, 43, one of Kiasu Parents’ founders, told TODAY that the site crashes every year during this time.

The unofficial T-score ranking usually takes “a few days” to solidify as the forum, which has more than 125,000 members, rely on crowdsourcing, with more parents going on the site to contribute after hearing from their friends with children from other schools.

Meanwhile, on Facebook groups discussing PSLE matters, some parents were sharing the percentages of students with T-scores of over 250 from “top” primary schools.

Facebook user Ling Tan reported that she had heard that at Nanyang Primary, 47 per cent of its students received T-scores of over 250, while Nan Hua Primary School and Henry Park Primary School had 43 per cent and 30.6 per cent respectively.

Parents say that the T-score information is important as it helps them to make more informed choices based on the schools’ performance.

Mdm Soon said she finds the data on the percentage of students getting T-scores of 250 and above useful.

“This will give me a better idea on how the school performs and thus how my child will perform in the next PSLE,” said Mdm Soon.

As for the T-score compilations on Kiasu Parents forum, Mdm Soon she said they are useful as PSLE students are rated on a bell curve.

“I need to know roughly where (my son) stands, and gauge how popular the (secondary) schools are in the Secondary One posting exercise.”

She added:  “We put together Kiasu Parents not because we want to be kiasu but because we want to be more informed to make better choices.”

To neaten the T-score reporting on the site, Mdm Soon helped to put in place a “form” system on the forum in 2013, so contributors can more systematically access a compilation of the year’s highest and average T-scores for each school.

Since the form system was added, the site had consistently received entries related to the highest T-scores of more than 100 schools.

However, not all schools make public their top scorers, top scores or percentage of students getting 250 and above, so it would still be hard for the T-score  list to be complete, Mdm Soon said.

Ms Rina Nurul Hidayah, 36, whose son collected his PSLE results from Opera Estate Primary School, said she likes to check the unofficial score compliations online to get a rough idea of her son’s chances in a better school, as it would have an effect on his university options further down the road.