Is PSLE really needed in Singapore?

Unlike entry to Primary Schools, admission into Secondary Schools is based on meritocracy. PSLE results are used as key admission criteria. Discuss everything related to PSLE and selection of Secondary Schools here.

Is PSLE really needed in Singapore?

Postby Will_lim » Sun Sep 30, 2012 10:33 pm

http://www.todayonline.com/Hotnews/EDC1 ... re--PM-Lee

Not a new question actually! But when I read the article about PSLE on Today and saw PM Lee's saying, I really disagree with it.

He said "There are many points in life where you have to prove yourself and demonstrate what you can do. You don't have to get into the right school and thereafter think that you are on an escalator ... So really it's your own ability and effort you have put in, the dedication of your teachers, and then you demonstrate what you can do at the stage of your life."

Then my point is if you don't have to get into the right secondary school, then you will bear the possibility of not getting into high school, and in turn not even in a good university.

It is this education system (which ironically PSLE is part of) that makes students so stressful since primary school. This is an escalator for anyone who wants to reserve a seat in university.

So if PSLE is axed, would it be better?

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Re: Is PSLE really needed in Singapore?

Postby Nebbermind » Sun Sep 30, 2012 10:54 pm

But most of my peers in the local uni also didn't come from branded schools. Then again, I didn't do law or medicine :evil:

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Re: Is PSLE really needed in Singapore?

Postby SAHM_TAN » Sun Sep 30, 2012 10:59 pm

There are many routes to Uni. However, most parents like the most normal route and if can be "branded", even better. So definitely will be stressful.

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Re: Is PSLE really needed in Singapore?

Postby slmkhoo » Mon Oct 01, 2012 8:36 am

Will_lim wrote:Then my point is if you don't have to get into the right secondary school, then you will bear the possibility of not getting into high school, and in turn not even in a good university.

It is this education system (which ironically PSLE is part of) that makes students so stressful since primary school. This is an escalator for anyone who wants to reserve a seat in university.

So if PSLE is axed, would it be better?

I think parents need to answer a few questions for themeslves:
- Is it true that if my child doesn't get into a 'good' sec school, he will almost certainly not get into a 'good' JC and university? (Some parents even use the words 'doomed' and 'dead' to describe not getting into a choice school.)
- Is it true that if my child gets into a 'good' sec school, he will almost certainly get into a 'good' JC and university? (This is the 'escalator theory' of education.)

My personal answer is that it's more the child's own ability, and also his determination to study and learn that determines whether he does well enough to go to university. It is not the school that he goes to which is the main determining factor. My greater concern would be that the competition in the school is at the right level for my child - too great and my child may give up in despair, too little and my child may be too complacent. I don't believe that pushing my weaker child into a 'good' school will make her results better, so in selecting schools, I don't want to consider schools where the competition is stiff. On the other hand, I encouraged my stronger child to aim for the top because I believe that she can hold her own there and will thrive on the competition. I still hope my weaker child will have a shot at university even though she is not in a 'good' school, and in fact, the reduced competition will probably make is easier for her to leran without too much stress. I believe that the escalator theory is one of the main causes of stress in education, along with a very short list of which schools are considered 'good', and parents have to decide if they subscribe to that theory. Please note that I'm not saying that schools don't matter; I'm just saying that getting into a 'good' school doesn't matter that much.

On a practical note, some kind of method to allocate students to secondary schools is needed. If not an exam, is there a better way? By who can pay more? By location? By lottery? With all its faults (which I hope MOE is planning to address to some degree), I think an exam is still the most practical way.

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Re: Is PSLE really needed in Singapore?

Postby Blue Dolphin » Mon Oct 01, 2012 9:51 am

Yes, PSLE is really needed in Singapore.

I take the view that PSLE is a resource allocation exercise; given that there are finite number of schools (common resources) and that schools are resourced differently (in terms of quality of principals, teachers, programmes and facilities), there is a need to have an equitable and practical distribution system for these finite and common resources.

How we (as parents and students) value or attempt to value these resources ("good", "right", "branded") will impact the competition framework (in this case, PSLE).

Nonetheless, if we (parents and students) choose to focus on the negative aspect or have a "its the end" mindset, then any resource distribution system will fail to meet public expectation.

Pressure, stress, uncertainty? It is part and parcel of the real world and thus I view it as a process/rite of passage of growing up. We all should learn how to deal with them (pressure, stress and uncertainty) avoiding analysis paralysis.

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Re: Is PSLE really needed in Singapore?

Postby janet88 » Mon Oct 01, 2012 8:14 pm

SAHM_TAN wrote:There are many routes to Uni. However, most parents like the most normal route and if can be "branded", even better. So definitely will be stressful.


Parents would prefer the normal route as much as possible as time is precious. My hubby went to the poly, worked a few years before he had money to study at NTU. When he got his engineering degree, he had to pay back the loan to the bank. This delayed our wedding.

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Re: Is PSLE really needed in Singapore?

Postby Coolkidsrock2 » Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:59 pm

[quote="slmkhoo"][quote="Will_lim"]

My personal answer is that it's more the child's own ability, and also his determination to study and learn that determines whether he does well enough to go to university. It is not the school that he goes to which is the main determining factor. My greater concern would be that the competition in the school is at the right level for my child - too great and my child may give up in despair, too little and my child may be too complacent. I don't believe that pushing my weaker child into a 'good' school will make her results better, so in selecting schools, I don't want to consider schools where the competition is stiff.

:goodpost: God did not create all children equal. Some kids are truely struggling just to keep up with the requirement of schools where the academic standard is above their natural ability. Beyond a certain threshold, some kids are just not able to cope. Sadly, some of these kids snapped. 6-figures in medical fees and they are still not the same.

All children deserve to be given the opportunity to be nurtured regardless of their ability. Without some form of testing, children of different ability may be compelled to run at the same pace, causing frustration to all.

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Re: Is PSLE really needed in Singapore?

Postby wonderm » Wed Oct 03, 2012 11:11 pm

slmkhoo wrote:I think parents need to answer a few questions for themeslves:
- Is it true that if my child doesn't get into a 'good' sec school, he will almost certainly not get into a 'good' JC and university? (Some parents even use the words 'doomed' and 'dead' to describe not getting into a choice school.)
- Is it true that if my child gets into a 'good' sec school, he will almost certainly get into a 'good' JC and university? (This is the 'escalator theory' of education.)

My personal answer is that it's more the child's own ability, and also his determination to study and learn that determines whether he does well enough to go to university. It is not the school that he goes to which is the main determining factor. My greater concern would be that the competition in the school is at the right level for my child - too great and my child may give up in despair, too little and my child may be too complacent. I don't believe that pushing my weaker child into a 'good' school will make her results better, so in selecting schools, I don't want to consider schools where the competition is stiff. On the other hand, I encouraged my stronger child to aim for the top because I believe that she can hold her own there and will thrive on the competition. I still hope my weaker child will have a shot at university even though she is not in a 'good' school, and in fact, the reduced competition will probably make is easier for her to leran without too much stress. I believe that the escalator theory is one of the main causes of stress in education, along with a very short list of which schools are considered 'good', and parents have to decide if they subscribe to that theory. Please note that I'm not saying that schools don't matter; I'm just saying that getting into a 'good' school doesn't matter that much.

On a practical note, some kind of method to allocate students to secondary schools is needed. If not an exam, is there a better way? By who can pay more? By location? By lottery? With all its faults (which I hope MOE is planning to address to some degree), I think an exam is still the most practical way.


:goodpost: I don't subscribe to the "escalator theory" and I agree with your theory!

Just for the sake of discussion and to get the parents thinking, if we switch all the students from a "branded" school to another non-branded school, which group of students will perform better at O/A level, and have higher university entry rate?

Like you, I am not saying good teachers don't matter. But I think the difference between teachers and facilities in branded and non-branded schools are not that much, especially if we are talking about government schools. Students themselves matter more.

I may be the minority here, I do think that all Singapore schools are good schools.

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Re: Is PSLE really needed in Singapore?

Postby janet88 » Wed Oct 03, 2012 11:51 pm

Some happen to stay near good schools. Some shift to stay near good schools. Competition is necessary to motivate our kids to work hard.
I like what Coolkidsrock2 mentioned. I feel that SAP schools are not for every child. His/her character also plays a part in deciding on the school.

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Re: Is PSLE really needed in Singapore?

Postby beanbear » Thu Oct 04, 2012 6:23 pm

slmkhoo wrote:I think parents need to answer a few questions for themeslves:
- Is it true that if my child doesn't get into a 'good' sec school, he will almost certainly not get into a 'good' JC and university? (Some parents even use the words 'doomed' and 'dead' to describe not getting into a choice school.)
- Is it true that if my child gets into a 'good' sec school, he will almost certainly get into a 'good' JC and university? (This is the 'escalator theory' of education.)

My personal answer is that it's more the child's own ability, and also his determination to study and learn that determines whether he does well enough to go to university. It is not the school that he goes to which is the main determining factor. My greater concern would be that the competition in the school is at the right level for my child - too great and my child may give up in despair, too little and my child may be too complacent. I don't believe that pushing my weaker child into a 'good' school will make her results better, so in selecting schools, I don't want to consider schools where the competition is stiff. On the other hand, I encouraged my stronger child to aim for the top because I believe that she can hold her own there and will thrive on the competition. I still hope my weaker child will have a shot at university even though she is not in a 'good' school, and in fact, the reduced competition will probably make is easier for her to leran without too much stress. I believe that the escalator theory is one of the main causes of stress in education, along with a very short list of which schools are considered 'good', and parents have to decide if they subscribe to that theory. Please note that I'm not saying that schools don't matter; I'm just saying that getting into a 'good' school doesn't matter that much.

On a practical note, some kind of method to allocate students to secondary schools is needed. If not an exam, is there a better way? By who can pay more? By location? By lottery? With all its faults (which I hope MOE is planning to address to some degree), I think an exam is still the most practical way.


Thank you for pertinent questions which I've highlighted in red. These questions point to a theory of success that some parents are holding to and this whole PSLE debate is getting people to make their assumptions explicit.

I'm really concerned about the bottom half of the bell curve. I suspect many of these children who are within that bottom half of the bell curve really wish PSLE need not be so stressful or the pain be alot lessened and many of them aspire to do well, go poly or jc and then onto university. How do we let them experience success during primary school such that they feel they can "dare" to aspire, that they are smart, that they can learn well and that they deserve to go to university if they so choose. If you put yourself in any child's shoes and if they have been scoring 50s - 60s or failling or near failing from P4 or P5 onwards, how do you given them evidence that they can do well. Of course, home environment is important. But seriously, what messages are we sending children if we subject them to experiences of failure or near failure over and over again? I disagree this is the way to teach resilience. This is creating a generation of low-esteem kids. We do not create a school environment where young children feel they can make it. Instead, we scare the hell out of them.

I wish there was a choice given to our children. Those who aspire for IP or Top 20 ranked schools - by all means go fight it out with a super duper difficult PSLE. Let the rest of the "commoners" take a more "normal" PSLE. If we can have differentiated programmes like IP, SAP, IB, etc, then why can't we have differentiated PSLE for different groups. Why subject the WHOLE cohort to a very high standard of testing if MANY of these have NO aspiration to go IP, SAP, IB etc.

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