Changes to the Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) scoring and Secondary One (S1) posting will be made as part of a larger shift to nurture well-rounded individuals and move away from an over-emphasis on academic results. To be implemented starting from the 2021 PSLE cohort, the changes aim to:
- Reduce fine differentiation of students
- Reflect a student’s level of achievement regardless of how his peers have done
- Encourage families to choose schools based on their suitability for the child’s learning needs, talents and interests.
Reducing fine differentiation of students
2. From 2021, each PSLE subject (English, Math, Science and Mother Tongue) will be scored using 8 Achievement Levels (ALs), with AL1 being the best. Students who perform similarly will be grouped in the same AL for each subject.
3. A student’s overall PSLE Score will be the sum of the ALs scored in all four subjects. This new PSLE Score will range from 4 to 32, and will replace the T-score Aggregate. With the new scoring system, students will no longer be as finely differentiated, since there will only be 29 possible PSLE Scores, compared to more than 200 T-score Aggregates under the current system.
Reflecting a student’s individual level of achievement
4. Under the new scoring system, students will be graded based on their individual performance in the subjects, regardless of how their peers have done. This is more educationally meaningful compared to the current T-score system, where a student could receive lower T-scores if most of his or her peers had done better. With a better gauge of a child’s performance, schools can better guide students on their secondary school journey.
Encouraging good fit between schools and students’ talents and interests
5. Students will use their PSLE Score for admission into secondary schools. That is, S1 posting will continue to be based on academic merit first. Under the new system, the choice order in which a student lists the secondary schools will now matter more as a tie-breaker. Between two students with the same PSLE Score, the student who has listed the school higher in his/her order of preference will have priority for a place in that school.
6. This recognises that families have a range of considerations when choosing secondary schools. It will also encourage families to consider factors beyond cut-off points, and make their choices based on a school’s unique culture, ethos and programmes. This will help students to find a school which is a good fit for their interests and strengths.
Moving ahead together
7. Over the next few years, MOE will test the new exam scoring and posting systems thoroughly. Our secondary schools will also use this time to continue developing and maturing their distinctive programmes, so that our students can choose those that complement their diverse learning needs, interests and strengths.
8. Over the past few months, MOE has engaged around 400 school leaders and educators. They expressed their support for the steps taken to reduce an excessive focus on academic results. They have also called for parents’ support and partnership to make the changes impactful. In the coming months, we will continue to engage teachers, parents, students and other stakeholders to help them understand the changes. We will also support schools in familiarising themselves with the changes and supporting affected parents and students.