Proposal to Scrap PSLE in Pilot Cluster of Schools

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Proposal to Scrap PSLE in Pilot Cluster of Schools

Postby jetsetter » Fri Jan 24, 2014 12:15 am

I'm sure you've read abt this proposal by MP Denise Phua a few days ago in the papers. Who's in favour?


________________________________________
SINGAPORE: A proposal to start a small number of government schools that do away with the Primary Six Leaving Examination (PSLE) and streaming could be worth a shot but the devil is in the details.

This was one of the first reactions to the proposal by Member of Parliament Denise Phua.

The MP for Moulmein-Kallang GRC made the proposal during Parliament's sitting on Tuesday when she called for bolder and swifter reforms to Singapore's education system.

She proposed that the government start a "pilot cluster of schools" offering 10 years of through-train education, without the need of a high-stakes exam, like the PSLE.

Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP Hri Kumar Nair said he is in favour of scrapping the PSLE, but only if there is a better solution for secondary school placement.

Mr Nair said: "The devil will be in the details. If you have some schools which are set up differently, who will gain entry into these schools?

"Who will get priority if these schools turn out to be popular?

"At the end of the 10-year programme, what sort of exams will the students sit for? Is it going to be O-level, or are they going to do an IP (Integrated Programme) and go straight to A-level?"

Some parents Channel NewsAsia spoke to could find something positive in the idea of a school with a good mix of students from different social backgrounds as well as different academic abilities.

"For children who are late bloomers, that (no streaming) would really help. You don't have this separatist, elitist thing so early (in the children's life). You don't brand the children so early. And yeah, I think it's brilliant!" said Catherine, a mother of one.

But given the choice, a parent said she would still opt for the tried and tested path of PSLE and streaming.

"If there's no PSLE or streaming, how would you evaluate your children?" asked Ms Widya, a mother of three.

But will a 10-year through-train education produce students who cannot do well in tests?

"I find it difficult to accept that just because you remove an exam when a child is 12 years old, immediately that will detrimentally affect his entire education. It can't be," said Mr Nair.

"I think (if) you have a 10-year or 12-year runway to properly prepare a child for university and for further education, then you can make the best use of the time. If a lot of that time is spent preparing the child for exams, then I think you give up on some other parts of his education."

And one part of that education is getting to know people from different backgrounds.

An expert said streaming could also narrow a student's social networks.

"As you put students into finer and finer categories, their social circle becomes more and more isolated," said Associate Professor Irene Ng from the Department of Social Work at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

"(This is) even if you might have community involvement programmes and emphasise that top students must come back and contribute to society," she added.

"Even if they have good intentions to do so, their social circle is just so limited they will have limited empathy and understanding to help effectively people who are different from themselves."

On the proposed "pilot cluster of schools" with no high-stakes exam, Associate Professor Irene Ng said that having only a small number of such schools risks limiting the programme to an elite group of students, which will defeat the original intention of not segregating students.

To avoid creating another kind of "top school", the programme should be made available to everyone if and when fully implemented, she said.

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/sin ... l?cid=FBSG

- CNA/ir

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Re: Proposal to Scrap PSLE in Pilot Cluster of Schools

Postby sushi88 » Fri Jan 24, 2014 1:06 am

I think it is consolidation time instead of keep thinking of making changes.

Let's start with:

Removal of exams in P1/P2, has it been a success?

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Re: Proposal to Scrap PSLE in Pilot Cluster of Schools

Postby janet88 » Fri Jan 24, 2014 6:39 am

not having to sit for that high stake exam at the end of 6 years of education definitely lessens the stress level...especially for kids who are less academically inclined...but what a minister mentioned about secondary school placement is the worrying issue. where will these kids eventually go to?
Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP Hri Kumar Nair said he is in favour of scrapping the PSLE, but only if there is a better solution for secondary school placement.

Mr Nair said: "The devil will be in the details. If you have some schools which are set up differently, who will gain entry into these schools?

"Who will get priority if these schools turn out to be popular?

"At the end of the 10-year programme, what sort of exams will the students sit for? Is it going to be O-level, or are they going to do an IP (Integrated Programme) and go straight to A-level?"

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Re: Proposal to Scrap PSLE in Pilot Cluster of Schools

Postby slmkhoo » Fri Jan 24, 2014 7:25 am

It's not a bad idea, but I don't think it will change anything much. Those parents who are most concerned about kids being in the 'right' or 'best' schools will then move their concerns and strategems to P1 registration and the final exams rather than the PSLE (assuming that there will be new 10-yr schools created). If not, how will they deal with the sec school placement? However they do it, it can be regarded as stressful.

If all concerned are willing to focus on education as opposed to exam grades, and focus on motivating kids to learn rather than ace exams, then it's an OK system. My kids have been in the US system where there are no major exams till the end of high school (effectively, the SAT and APs around 11th grade), and there are kids who slack all the way, kids who work hard all the way, kids who slack until the last 2 yrs etc. What makes the difference between a high achiever and a those who do poorly are natural intelligence, motivation, discipline, thirst for learning etc. Some will be stressed because of internal drive or parental pressure even when there are no major exams. I think the main problem with the PSLE is the importance attached to it by parents and teachers, not the 'system'.

By the way, I have no quibble with trying to ace exams. I just feel that many Singapore teachers and parents tend to focus too much on exams too early. My daughter started preparation for PSLE less than a year before the exams, and only did it on a part-time basis as we were overseas. I don't think it was less effective than the Singapore schools' way of preparing 2 yrs or more ahead. That gave her a lot more time to study more widely and take more risks without always checking to see how something would be marked. But when we reached the last 3 mths, we told her to focus on the exams and go for it. It's not an all-or-nothing choice.

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Re: Proposal to Scrap PSLE in Pilot Cluster of Schools

Postby sushi88 » Fri Jan 24, 2014 7:56 am

Agree with slmkhoo, if the mindset does not change, all external changes made in policy will not change anything or it gives a superficial feel that things have changed until reality sets in again.

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Re: Proposal to Scrap PSLE in Pilot Cluster of Schools

Postby jtoh » Fri Jan 24, 2014 7:58 am

sushi88 wrote:I think it is consolidation time instead of keep thinking of making changes.

Let's start with:

Removal of exams in P1/P2, has it been a success?


I'm interested to know the effects of this too. Have some schools re-introduced exams in P2? And are the constant assessments in place of Mid-Years and EYAs less stressful?

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Re: Proposal to Scrap PSLE in Pilot Cluster of Schools

Postby janet88 » Fri Jan 24, 2014 8:18 am

my daughter has semestral tests every 10 weeks in p1/2...that means ca1, sa1, ca2 and sa2 still happened...reason being is if there is completely no test of any kind, they will not know how to handle an exam. at the end of p2, there is a SA2 for streaming purposes.

the whole idea of education is on learning, not being graded.
i remember when my son was in p3, he was marked wrong for a science open-ended...my hubby approached his teacher...the teacher told him that the answer was marked wrong because it was not in line with psle standard.

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Re: Proposal to Scrap PSLE in Pilot Cluster of Schools

Postby Mawar » Fri Jan 24, 2014 8:24 am

jtoh wrote:
sushi88 wrote:I think it is consolidation time instead of keep thinking of making changes.

Let's start with:

Removal of exams in P1/P2, has it been a success?


I'm interested to know the effects of this too. Have some schools re-introduced exams in P2? And are the constant assessments in place of Mid-Years and EYAs less stressful?


My DD had her first exam at the end of P2. No ranking was given in report card and no streaming until upper primary. Some parents did highlight that it could result in complacency and give false sense of adequacy for weaker students.

In our case, it has been relaxing. DD took each topical and unit test in her stride. We took advantage of the downtime to enjoy external enrichment.

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Re: Proposal to Scrap PSLE in Pilot Cluster of Schools

Postby Nebbermind » Fri Jan 24, 2014 8:32 am

janet_lee88 wrote:my daughter has semestral tests every 10 weeks in p1/2...that means ca1, sa1, ca2 and sa2 still happened...reason being is if there is completely no test of any kind, they will not know how to handle an exam. at the end of p2, there is a SA2 for streaming purposes.

the whole idea of education is on learning, not being graded.
i remember when my son was in p3, he was marked wrong for a science open-ended...my hubby approached his teacher...the teacher told him that the answer was marked wrong because it was not in line with psle standard.


Having assessment and exam is not the issue. What they do with the results/grades is. Coz if after having these, there is no ranking and every class in the next level is a mixed ability class, then who will bother?

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Re: Proposal to Scrap PSLE in Pilot Cluster of Schools

Postby slmkhoo » Fri Jan 24, 2014 8:37 am

janet_lee88 wrote:my daughter has semestral tests every 10 weeks in p1/2...that means ca1, sa1, ca2 and sa2 still happened...reason being is if there is completely no test of any kind, they will not know how to handle an exam. at the end of p2, there is a SA2 for streaming purposes.

the whole idea of education is on learning, not being graded.
i remember when my son was in p3, he was marked wrong for a science open-ended...my hubby approached his teacher...the teacher told him that the answer was marked wrong because it was not in line with psle standard.

But being graded is part of the feedback loop of learning. Without feedback, how is the student to know his achievements or weaknesses? No PSLE can't mean no grading of any kind all the way through school. Even in the US system where there are no major exams for 12 yrs, there are constant tests and semestral exams. The difference is that parents, teachers and students (mostly) don't worry too much about them. There are still those who do, mostly the Asians! (read Tiger Mom)

Yes, what Janet mentions, about working to PSLE standards from P3, is exactly what I feel should be avoided. As long as the child shows the right level of understanding, it should be accepted. Why work towards an exam 3 yrs in the future? PSLE standards should be applied in P6, not before.

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