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PSLE indicative cut-off points: Parents split over whether new scoring system will ease stress over exam

SINGAPORE — Parents interviewed by TODAY after the release of indicative Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) entry scores on Tuesday (April 27) were split over whether the new scoring system will alleviate stress over the national examination.

Ms Desiree Yaw and her son Dillon Tan, 12, who will be taking the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) under the new scoring system in 2021.

Ms Desiree Yaw and her son Dillon Tan, 12, who will be taking the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) under the new scoring system in 2021.

  • The Ministry of Education (MOE) on Tuesday released the range of secondary school entry scores under the new PSLE scoring system
  • The cut-off points for various schools are based on the 2020’s cohort PSLE results and school choice patterns
  • Some parents believe the revamped scoring system will ease some anxiety over the national exam
  • Several wondered how the new system will make it easier to pick the school best suited to their children’s capabilities
  • Educators said the new system would ensure each student would have enough schools to choose from

 

SINGAPORE — Parents interviewed by TODAY after the release of indicative Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) entry scores on Tuesday (April 27) were split over whether the new scoring system will alleviate stress over the national examination.

Some parents said they believe the revamp will ease anxiety levels though others worry that the new system, with its wider banding and increased school choices, may not necessarily make it easier to find a school best suited to their children’s capabilities.

One parent expressing relief is homemaker Hanisah Hashim, 39, whose son is in Primary 5 this year, and so will take the PSLE next year.

She said the new system has alleviated the stress levels for both her and her 12-year-old son as there will be a greater choice of schools to pick from.

“I think it has helped calm my anxiety a bit, knowing that a lot of the schools have similar cut-off points. That means he stands a chance to get into the school he wants even when he’s short of one or two points,” said the mother of three, aged between four and 12.

“I’m sure the new scoring system has its pros and cons. I just want to make sure my son is placed in a school that can best cater to his learning abilities,” she said.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) on Tuesday released the range of secondary school entry scores under the new PSLE scoring system, which is based on the 2020’s cohort PSLE results and school choice patterns.

Starting this year, all Primary 6 pupils will be graded according to Achievement Level (AL) scores instead of alphabetical grades in a bid to reduce the emphasis on their academic achievements.

The new scoring system, where AL1 is the highest grade and AL8 is the lowest, looks at pupils’ individual performance in subjects instead of how they do relative to their peers, which is the case in the previous T-score system.

MOE said the indicative PSLE score range is derived from the scores of the first and last student admitted into a school in the previous Secondary 1 posting.

Like the T-score system, this range may vary year to year depending on the previous cohort’s results and school choice pattern. Fluctuations will typically be by the equivalent of one AL score.

STRESS LEVELS INCREASE

Four out of the six parents to whom TODAY spoke said that the indicative cut-off points under the new scoring system have increased their stress levels, instead of lessening them.

“It’s more stressful for me because this is the first year it is being implemented,” said Madam Josephine Yip, 41.

The mother of three children, aged between 12 and 16, who works in the finance industry, added that she is worried about the uncertainty that the new system brings given that her two older children went through the T-score system.

Ms Desiree Yaw, whose son will be taking the PSLE this year, was concerned about how some schools, especially the ones they are interested in, might be oversubscribed.

“If the school he wants to go to has a lot of students choosing it and they have better scores, we lose out. He will have to go to his second choice or third choice of school,” said the 44-year-old executive assistant. “Wouldn’t it then be the same as the T-score system?”

Agreeing, Ms Valerie Ng, 37, believes the new system will still put some children, like those in affiliated primary schools, at an advantage.

The marketing director in a property agency, and mother of four, noted that the cut-off points for the express stream in affiliated schools range from seven to 22, while the cut-off points for the express stream in non-affiliated schools range from six to 11.

“There is a big difference in the cut-off points between the two schools. It is easier for the kids in the affiliated schools to get into the express stream (as compared to the ones in non-affiliated schools,” she said.

“The new system also still makes it difficult for children in neighbourhood schools to enter independent schools… How is that being inclusive?”

SUFFICIENT OPTIONS TO CHOOSE FROM

Educators TODAY interviewed on Tuesday said the new system would improve morale among students and ensure each student would have sufficient options of schools to choose from.

A Primary 5 science teacher, who declined to be named as she was not authorised to speak to the media, said the new PSLE system, which aims to reduce the emphasis on academic achievements, would allow students to know only their AL scores and not their exact scores.

Hence, they would not be “so upset over one or two marks”.

Mr Eddie Foo, principal of West View Primary School, said: “With this move, our children do not need to catch up with chasing after the last mark. Rather, it allows them to focus on their own learning without comparing with their peers.

“Without being caught up, it gives them the time and space necessary to develop their own strengths and abilities.”

Mrs Anba Saroja, principal of Whitley Secondary School, said parents should look at the range of programmes offered by various schools and make their choice based on which best meet the learning needs of their children.

Agreeing, Mr Tan King Ming, principal of Pasir Ris Primary School, said the wider range of schools to choose from will encourage parents to consider factors other than cut-off points when selecting schools.

He added: “Over the years, MOE has been moving away from an overemphasis on academic results towards holistic education. The PSLE changes from 2021 should not be seen in isolation, but as one of the steps in that direction.”

Related topics

MOE cut-off points PSLE

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