Singapore’s 15-year-olds possess a range of knowledge and skills that are valued in the 21st Century, according to the 2012 results of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a triennial international benchmarking study organised by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The strong performance of our students reflects the efforts put in by our students with the support of our schools and parents.
Our students demonstrated the ability to inquire, reason, and communicate clearly in solving unfamiliar real-life problems. These problem-solving competencies are highly valued and would place our students on a strong footing to participate effectively in, and embrace the challenges of the 21st Century.
Our education system has become more broad and inclusive in providing opportunities for every child even as we maintain high standards and rigour. PISA 2012 shows that Singapore has made significant progress in levelling up the academically-weaker students, whilst sustaining the strong performance of the academically-stronger students. PISA 2012 also shows that our students possess high levels of motivation, engagement and confidence in learning.
The strong performance and positive attitudes toward learning of our students reflects the efforts put in by our students, the professionalism and dedication of our teachers, and the strong support of parents and the community.Key Findings Ability to Apply Knowledge and Skills in Unfamiliar Real-life Situations
Of the 65 participating education systems, Singapore students have again ranked among the top performers in paper-based Mathematics, Reading and Science literacies. Singapore was also among the top performers among the 32 education systems which opted to participate in the computer-based assessments of Mathematics and Reading1.
Our strong performance across the different areas of assessments shows that most of our students were adept at applying their knowledge and skills in novel ways. They were able to navigate in a computer-based environment and deal with ambiguous information, explore indirect relationships and work with less structured real-world data and representations. They demonstrated skills in evaluating different text sources for quality and credibility and in integrating information. They displayed higher-order cognitive thinking skills in resolving problem situations where a solution was not obvious.
This is in part due to the efforts of our teachers who encourage students to learn more actively and independently, and help them to develop an inquiring mind and a love for learning.High Level of Motivation to Learn Mathematics
PISA 2012 shows that Singapore students are highly motivated to learn Mathematics and are confident about performing a range of Mathematics tasks. They also enjoy and look forward to their Mathematics lessons. This could be attributed to the more learner-centred approaches to learning Mathematics which we have introduced to better cater to a wider range of learning styles.Improved Performance by Academically-Weaker Students
Compared to 2009, our academically-weaker students performed better, with less than 10 per cent of low performers2 in each of the domains.
These results affirm our ongoing efforts to support academically-weaker students, including customised lessons to suit different learning needs, the use of learner-centred teaching strategies and customised remediation programmes. With the gradual roll-out of the comprehensive suite of levelling-up programmes announced by MOE in 2013, we aim to further improve the performance of our academically-weaker students.Improved Performance by Academically-Stronger Students
Singapore’s high proportion of top performers indicates that our education system enables our academically-stronger students to maximise their potential. The proportion of top performers in Singapore has increased compared to 2009 - from 36 to 40 per cent in Mathematics, 16 to 21 per cent in Reading and 20 to 23 per cent in Science.
High-performing students were able to evaluate problem-solving strategies for dealing with complex problems, and worked strategically using broad, well-developed thinking and reasoning skills. They could organise multiple pieces of deeply embedded information and evaluate unfamiliar content. In Science, they demonstrated well-developed inquiry abilities, and were able to bring critical insights to situations and construct arguments based on evidence and analysis.
On our students’ strong and broad-ranging performance in PISA 2012, Ms Ho Peng, Director-General of Education said, “The findings show that MOE is on the right track in developing in our students competencies needed for the future workplace, while maintaining our strong fundamentals in literacy, numeracy and science. The findings are heartening in showing how we have levelled up our academically-weaker students and given them a strong foundation. At the same time, we continue to stretch high-performing students. We will continue to build on our strengths. We thank all teachers and school leaders for their dedication towards nurturing our students, and parents for working closely with schools to prepare our young for a fast-changing world.”Background
PISA is a triennial OECD study that examines and compares how well education systems are helping their students acquire the knowledge and skills that are essential for full participation in modern societies. It assesses the capacity of 15-year-old students to apply knowledge and skills in Mathematics, Reading and Science, and to analyse, reason and communicate effectively as they solve problems in a variety of real-life situations. Each cycle provides information on all three domains but focuses on one major domain. Mathematics was the major domain in PISA 2012, with 65 education systems participating.
This was the second time that Singapore had participated in PISA. A total of 5,369 students, mainly from Secondary 3 and 4, from all 166 public secondary schools and 177 students from six private schools participated in PISA 2012. They were representative of the 15-year-old population in Singapore.Annex
- Table 1: Mean scores of top performing education systems in PISA 2012 paper-based assessment of Mathematics, Reading and Science literacy
- Table 2: Mean scores of top performing education systems in PISA 2012 computer-based assessment of Mathematics and Reading literacy
- Figure 1: Proportion of low performers in PISA 2009 and PISA 2012
View annex here.
A new Holistic Assessment in Physical Education (PE) will be introduced to all schools in 2016 to support the new PE syllabus that will see students engaging in a wider range of physical activities and sports.
Students’ participation level in PE, attainment in different physical activities, demonstration of values and attitudes during PE lessons, as well as reporting on their self-directed physical activities with their families and friends will be captured as part of the holistic report for PE.
Physical fitness will continue to be emphasised and be reported as a valued outcome of PE, together with attainment in the areas of sports and games, outdoor education and other physical activities such as dance, gymnastics and swimming. Instead of annually, the National Physical Fitness Award (NAPFA) will be conducted for students at Primary 4 and 6, Secondary 2 and 4/5, and at JC2/MI 3. This will allow schools to conduct a wider range of physical activities during PE lessons. NAPFA grades will be reflected in raw scores and performance bands instead of alphabetical grades to better describe the student’s performance level for each aspect of fitness. The current 6 grades of NAPFA (i.e. A, B, C, D, E and F) will be organised into the performance bands of: “Outstanding Performance” (current Grade A), “Very Good Performance” (current Grade B), “Good Performance” (current Grade C & D), “Satisfactory Performance” (current Grade E) and “Needs improvement” (current Grade F).
The new Holistic Assessment will help students develop within themselves a holistic perspective of both fitness and enjoyment of PE and sports. Students’ fitness and health will also be more sustainable when parents and families participate and play an active role in encouraging their children to lead an active and healthy lifestyle.New PE Syllabus 2014
The 2014 PE Syllabus seeks to equip our students with competencies to engage in a wide range of physical activities and sports. The purpose is to enable students to demonstrate individually and as teams, the physical skills, practices, and values to enjoy a lifetime of active and healthy living. The active interactions among students during PE lessons also create invaluable authentic teachable moments to guide students in character development and the inculcation of values.
To achieve these, the new PE syllabus includes the following features:
- The Primary PE Syllabus will be centred on acquiring Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS) through a range of enjoyable and varied physical activities;
- The Secondary PE Syllabus will focus on developing students’ skills in at least Six physical activities and sports for active participation beyond school;
- All secondary school students will be able to participate in three intra-school recreational sports competitions;
- Outdoor Education will be included as one of the activity areas;
- Health Education and Sports Science will be integrated and taught together with practical applications.
The Ministry of Education releases data annually on the 10-year trend of performance of our students. The objective is to provide feedback to the community on how our children have fared over the last 10 years.
Year-to-year fluctuations are to be expected as each batch of students is different, so it is more meaningful to focus on longer term trends over 10 years.Overall 10-Year Trend Of Educational Performance (2003 - 2012) Percentage of P1 Cohort Admitted to Post-Secondary Education Institutions
The percentage of each P1 Cohort admitted to post-secondary education institutions has improved steadily over the last 10 years (from 88% in 2003 to above 95% in 2012).Performance in National Examinations
At the GCE 'A' Level, the overall percentage of students with at least three 'A'/'H2' Passes and pass in General Paper or Knowledge and Inquiry has improved over the last 10 years (from 87% in 2003 to 91% in 2012). The percentage of GCE 'A' Level students who passed General Paper or Knowledge and Inquiry has also increased.
The overall percentage of students with at least three O-level passes and at least five O-level passes has remained stable over the last 10 years. The percentage of GCE 'O' Level students who passed English Language has increased over the last 10 years (from 84% in 2003 to 88% in 2012).
PSLE results have remained stable over the last 10 years, both in terms of overall percentage of passes and the proportion of PSLE students who scored A*-C in each subject.Detailed Description of Charts
The following charts for the last 10 years (2003 - 2012) are attached:
- One chart on the percentage of each Primary One (P1) cohort admitted to post-secondary institutions1.
- Three sets of charts showing the performance of the major ethnic groups in the GCE 'A' and 'O' Level Examinations and the PSLE2.
The proportion of GCE 'A' level students who obtained at least three 'H2' passes and passed General Paper or Knowledge and Inquiry exceeded 90% in 2012. See Chart B1.Performance by Subject
The overall pass rates in General Paper (GP) or Knowledge and Inquiry and Mother Tongue Language continued to be high, at above 90%. See Charts B2 and B3.Performance In GCE 'O' Level (Charts C1 - C5) Performance by Overall Measure
The proportion of GCE 'O' level students with at least three 'O' level passes remained high, at around 95%, while the proportion with at least five 'O' level passes remained at above 80%. See Charts C1 and C2.Performance by Subject
The overall pass rates for English Language, Mother Tongue Language and Mathematics have all remained high and comparable with the previous years (above 85%, 95% and 85% respectively). See Charts C3 - C5. The percentage of GCE 'O' Level students who passed English Language has increased to 88% in 2012.Performance In PSLE (Charts D1 - D5) Performance by Overall Measure
PSLE candidates continued to perform well, with an overall percentage pass rate of above 95%. See Chart D1.Performance by Subject
The overall proportion of PSLE students who scored A*-C in English Language and Mother Tongue Language continued to be high, above 95%, while the proportion who scored A*-C in Mathematics and Science remained at above 80% and 90% respectively. See Charts D2 - D5.Footnote
- The percentages are based on students who were enrolled in P1 10 years ago.↩
- The percentages are based on school candidates who sat for the respective examinations.↩
- Junior colleges, Centralised Institute, Polytechnics, ITE, LASALLE College of the Arts, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) and other private education institutions.↩