Child Underperforms Because Tested Above Cognitive Level

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Would you or won't you worry if your child were failing in P2?
Yes 96%  96%  [ 70 ]
No 4%  4%  [ 3 ]
Total votes : 73
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 Post subject: Child Underperforms Because Tested Above Cognitive Level
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 11:19 am 
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KiasuGrandMaster
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Irene Tham's article in the Straits Times today got me thinking about the practice in schools of testing beyond the current year syllabus. I understood from the article that...

It's The Parent's Fault
Parents who send kids to enrichment FORCE Teachers to test at ever higher levels.

Given the following features of the system...
(1) PSLE tests and grades at levels beyond Primary level (not documented in textbooks... nor taught at school) forcing schools to raise testing standards at every level all the way down to P1
(2) People with good grades are fast tracked into better careers
(3) People with low qualifications such as ITE find it a struggle to make it because many employers have HR policies that are tagged to educational qualifications

Would you, or won't you worry if your child were pulling in FAIL grades in P2 for any subject, as was reported in the article?


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 Post subject: Re: Child Underperforms Because Tested Above Cognitive Level
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 5:15 pm 
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BrownBelt
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I agree it's the parents' fault. The bar has been raised by the race to the top, so everyone suffers together. It's like queuing overnight to buy tickets. But the thinking is that education is a good thing, can there ever be such a thing as TOO much education? So who can argue against teaching their child more if the child can take it?

This is different compared to some countries where early introduction to reading and writing is considered BAD for the child because half of all children are not yet neurologically ready for certain aspects of academic learning. In childhood, the brains mature neurologically at different rates. Another reason is early seatwork may be damaging for eyesight. Yet another is that early rote learning stifle creativity.

I think (2) needs to be more nuanced. Good grades are supposed to reflect good thinking skills, and all the qualities that is associated with a good student - hardworking, analytical, competence. I do not think PSLE score has any reflections on any of this by the time they start a career. I do not understand why so many people seem to think it's the start of a race to the rest of your life.

That doesn't mean I leave my child to struggle at the bottom of the class. I work with him because I want to teach him perseverance and learning skills.

Anyway, I think it's too big a leap to link primary school and PSLE to one's eventual success in life. It is not the case; unfortunately very few people seem to agree with me on this.


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 Post subject: Re: Child Underperforms Because Tested Above Cognitive Level
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 5:21 pm 
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BrownBelt
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And I think the questions that were posed in the newspapers are not representative of all schools, and certainly not representative of the entire test paper. There are parents who are also not mathematically inclined who would zone out at the first two sentences, and others who will enjoy them. The problem is we now expect our children to ALL be all-rounders.

But in real life, who is good at everything?? We accept that as working adults, we all know what we are good at and what we are weak at, but somehow, we (and by extension, schools) expect our children to score well for every subject. So everyone stew in the heat together lah.


Last edited by cnimed on Sun Feb 12, 2012 5:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Child Underperforms Because Tested Above Cognitive Level
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 5:23 pm 
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BrownBelt
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gam siah gam siah for the support! We all need more sanity in this environment!


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 Post subject: Re: Child Underperforms Because Tested Above Cognitive Level
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 5:42 pm 
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BrownBelt
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btw, before the child fails, there are already a lot of "history" to dig through and red flags. The failing would not have come as a surprise. To worry or not depends on whether the child has been properly taught.

The choice of school does matter. Neighbourhood schools will do more teaching to help a child who enters school without being able to read or write. If you have a late-bloomer, or if you didn't prepare your child for P1, it's better to opt for a neighbourhood school and ask around to get a recommended patient teacher to work with him in class.

If you have a child who has been consistently taught by competent patient teachers, the child should be screened for learning issues including vision, hearing, dyslexia. A parent SHOULD worry about these, because these have long-term implications beyond school results. Vision and hearing issues also have safety implications.

For the average child who simply was not prepared, it's not difficult to pass with a bit more preparation. Put them in an education system that does not advocate early learning, they may even be considered average or above average. It can be very situational in the early years.


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 Post subject: Re: Child Underperforms Because Tested Above Cognitive Level
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 5:49 pm 
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Councillor
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deminc wrote:

Anyway, I think it's too big a leap to link primary school and PSLE to one's eventual success in life. It is not the case; unfortunately very few people seem to agree with me on this.


I agree with you deminc :hugs:

Just want to share that I have seen two of my DH's cousins with dismal PSLE results due to unfavorable family circumstances, flourish after moving on to Uni and Poly. The former was a NT kid. After his NS, his mom sent him to Australia to study and he is graduating this year. He has been offered a job there as well. Initially filled with low self esteem, he now carries himself and speaks well, has beefed up (ie lifts weights) and speaks with a cute Australian twang.

The latter, took his N levels twice (that was his turning point), did well enough for his O levels to enter Poly and is now supporting himself working part time, while studying at the same time.

These baby successes, I believe, will eventually lead to bigger ones :pray: :xedfingers:


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 Post subject: Re: Child Underperforms Because Tested Above Cognitive Level
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 6:06 pm 
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BlueBelt
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Chenonceau wrote:
(1) PSLE tests and grades at levels beyond Primary level (not documented in textbooks... nor taught at school) forcing schools to raise testing standards at every level all the way down to P1

Would you, or won't you worry if your child were pulling in FAIL grades in P2 for any subject, as was reported in the article?


I remember when my DD2 came back with marks in the range of 70s & 80s, my initial reaction was "it's ok" until I saw that in comparison to her P1 cohort, she's at the bottom 20 percentile. At that time she had only tuition for chinese. Come P2, she's Band 2 for her subjects across the board and she's hitting bottom 10 percentile. Now, as a parent at P3 level, I'm beginning to hit panic button. So in P3 I started to send her for Maths tuition.

None of the teachers actually noticed if she has a learning difficulty or thought she was "stupid" or "lazy" but only label "careless", "need more work". What can I as a parent do with general feedback?

DD's school provides the range of marks for every subject so we get a good sense of how difficult a paper is vis-a-vis the students' ability. At P4, I remembered the highest score for science for the entire level was 84 marks - so that to me was a red flag about how the school is testing beyond a child's ability.

By P4, failing has become a norm for DD and passing was a moment to rejoice. Again no teacher asked me to send my child for psychological testing. It was only upon speaking with a friend that I found out DD's symptoms sound like my friend's child and finally, I found out DD had some learning difficulties and got that confirmed with psychological testing.

Granted that DD had learning issues but I think it's very hard to detect learning difficulties at P1 or P2 levels and it seems to be the "norm" to expect pupils to perform at the 90s range at P1 & P2 level. Schools have a way of making parents panic by giving you comparison data about your child. Although I didn't over-react to such data, I can't help but feel how many parents would be panicking if their child is measured against their peers after every exam. Honestly, what are parents supposed to do if faced with such comparative data?


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 Post subject: Re: Child Underperforms Because Tested Above Cognitive Level
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 6:08 pm 
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KiasuGrandMaster
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Deminc... I don't disagree with you. I picked up a book today about how education actually doesn't unlock our talents. For many, a good education locks it away. How come so many children are creative? And so few adults are?

As you said, there is such a thing as too much education. The writer asserts the following points...

(1) University admission criteria (and the narrow band of skills they value) have influenced how many parents think of IQ.
(2) IQ testing itself explores a narrow band of skills and calls it Intelligence hence an ITE grad who can do magic with a blowtorch... whilst scoring low in academics and IQ is NOT intelligent. By our narrow definition of intelligence, this guy is really dumb because he left school at 14 to work in construction http://petunialee.blogspot.com/2010/01/ ... utter.html
(3) There are many PhDs who can't find a job.

When I write in this forum, I am not trying encourage parents to go up the vortex of enrichment. I am trying to reverse the trend by encouraging schools to REALISE that they must not reinforce such parental behaviors by constantly following the bar set by parents and their expensive enrichment.

I must make clear that I've never believed in tuition/enrichment nor even extra help for my kids. Till NOW, DS has no enrichment. He told me he was bored with practice papers. His exams are in 2 weeks. I told him "Ok... no more practices till AFTER exams. I don't care what the results will be but we will play and rot till then." He is IN the system and we have no choice but to help him do as well as he can. To persevere and do his best. But I am also mindful that he has emotional needs and a right to a HAPPY childhood. When push comes to shove and I have to make a choice between high scores and a happy child, I make the choice for a happy and well-balanced child. Again and again.

However, where I disagree with you is that I think it a fallacy to think that only parents are to blame. Parents may have started it. That I agree. But the schools don't have to be sucked along. MOE can decide that no matter how far ahead of the bar enrichment kids are, the mainstream exams will look sane.

This means that parents like me don't have to play catch up. More importantly, it means that children with no access to enrichment don't get beaten down.

Like I said before, my DS has ME. I am here to patch him up and let him know that even if he fails Chinese (after trying his best) I will be proud of him. Many children go home to scoldings and canings when results are poor. Many children bear with relatives' comparisons of "Sister is smarter than Brother" without a buffer. My DS goes through that every CNY. Like a Mother Wolf, I glare at ANYONE who dares even intimate that DS is a lesser person than DD. All relatives know that they will have to deal with me if they unwittingly make my son feel like a lesser person for not doing as well as his sister academically. But not every child has a mother as sensitive to psychological priming as I am. Not many parents will guard against notions and ideas that disappear into the ether of conversation, but lodge firmly in a child's mind.

Again and again, I have parents bring me children who are not motivated. I work with each pair. Invariably, the child is not working because he is demoralized... and the set of motivation strategies I coach to the parent are just those aimed at improving self-efficacy and self-concept... and giving hope. There was nothing wrong with the child. Just a normal playful child who has decided that he/she is dumb.

The SYSTEM must stop following the enrichment parents. The SYSTEM must stop rewarding the efforts of all this enrichment by providing kids with enrichment the highest marks. If exams are set such that kids can get 100% without enrichment, many of the kids that do go for enrichment would find it a waste of time. Go also 100%. Don't go also 100%. So why go? Let those enriched kids who wanna move ahead skip levels. But keep the tests and exams within the levels appropriate to that level so that more kids can feel good about themselves.

We have come to a point where parents and more parents are sucked into this vortex. The only solution is for the system to take a stand and stop testing beyond what they teach, regardless of the fact that ENRICHMENT PARENTS started this, regardless of the fact that ENRICHMENT PARENTS started this vortex.

Certainly, many trees in the forest are sick. But we need a forest wide solution to prevent more trees from getting sick. You are fighting it, deminc. You speak out against these trees but the solution we need is forest-wide, not tree-specific. If we don't unite and lobby for a systemic STOP to this sort of testing, it may be YOU, in a few years who will fall to the contagion too... or else, do like me, explore education abroad, and homeschooling.

But the day we relocate for the sake of our grandchildren, I know that I have given up hope for Singapore, and I would be sad to leave behind children who aren't as lucky as mine, or yours.


Last edited by Chenonceau on Sun Feb 12, 2012 7:35 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Child Underperforms Because Tested Above Cognitive Level
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 6:16 pm 
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KiasuGrandMaster
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autumnbronze wrote:
Just want to share that I have seen two of my DH's cousins with dismal PSLE results due to unfavorable family circumstances, flourish after moving on to Uni and Poly. The former was a NT kid. After his NS, his mom sent him to Australia to study and he is graduating this year. He has been offered a job there as well. Initially filled with low self esteem, he now carries himself and speaks well, has beefed up (ie lifts weights) and speaks with a cute Australian twang.


Again, I am not disagreeing. I again reiterate that I seriously wondered if I should put my son in Carpentry in ITE because I see a dearth of Singaporean carpenters and for sure the skills would be in demand (and making a living would not be an issue).

But why should we accept a system that puts the 90% of children through experiences that tell them they're no good when clearly, once they are out of the system, they show they can BE good? Not everyone of these kids have access parents who will hug them and say "It's ok".

Some parents think that I am doing this because I can't get over my son failing in P5. I have and we have. He is no longer failing AND at that time, I made sure I told him that it was not his fault, and that he was not dumb. He didn't believe me because his concrete experience showed him something else. I had to SHOW him. And I did.

So, we are fine.

But when the SYSTEM reinforces the actions of parents who enrich by giving these enriched kids the top scores, the system feeds the enrichment frenzy. It is as simple as training a dog to use the pee tray by reinforcing his behavior with a treat. Stop reinforcing these behaviors and they will disappear. The diehards of enrichment who believe in pushing ahead, can then set up a private school and all go there so their kids can all do nothing academics but mainstream schools for the populace should stay sane.


Last edited by Chenonceau on Sun Feb 12, 2012 6:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Child Underperforms Because Tested Above Cognitive Level
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 6:21 pm 
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KiasuGrandMaster
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Chenonceau wrote:
Irene Tham's article in the Straits Times today got me thinking about the practice in schools of testing beyond the current year syllabus. I understood from the article that...

It's The Parent's Fault
Parents who send kids to enrichment FORCE Teachers to test at ever higher levels.


It cannot be the parents' fault alone when no one is putting a gun to MOE's head to say "Test beyond the cognitive level or else..." In fact, again and again, in parliament and in this forum, so many are saying... Don't test beyond cognitive levels... so our kids can have a normal childhood.

No one is FORCING MOE to test high. I am in effect trying to lobby MOE to test reasonably and to NOT follow the bar set by enriched kids.


Last edited by Chenonceau on Sun Feb 12, 2012 6:59 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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