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New PSLE Grading: Now, It’s Not Enough for 12-Year-Old’s to just Do Well Enough

RONALD LEE: Since we’re the topic of grading and bands, let’s agree on a benchmark – over a 100 marks, 50 marks should be considered a pass. Boleh?

If you got a pass, it means that you still did OK on the PSLE lah, or at least enough not to fail.

Under the old T-Score system, if a 12-year-old passed all his subjects with at least 50 marks, he scored 200 points – enough to get into the Express stream of many secondary schools.

Now with the PSLE grading revamp, the same 12-year-old would be put be an AL of 6 points for each subject, and 24 points in total, which by default would send him straight to the Normal Academic stream.



It’s just not enough to do well enough anymore.

Streaming breeds stigma, and faced with the potential stigma of your kid being labelled unsavoury names for going to the N(A) stream, you can imagine what parents would do next.

The crunch is also faced at the top – the “elite” kids.

It’s a lot harder now to pull up your overall marks if you totally suck at one subject.

If your kid is a genius in Math but can’t spell his Chinese name to save his life, he can no longer count on grabbing as many points from Math as he can to pull up his Chinese marks due to the banding system.

Which would be easier – to up your game in subjects you’re good in, or subjects that make you see stars?

So, while the Ministry of Education says the banding system is intended to lessen differentiation and consequently pressure on students to grab as many points as they can, they’ve just upped the stress on students to do well in subjects they lack aptitude in.

Those two scenarios alone spell “more tuition”, and you wonder how the MOE came to the conclusion that this PSLE revamp would make students less stressed with the paper chase and more exploratory in other areas of non-academic interests.

And then, there’s that extra 5 marks (from 85 to 90 marks) needed for students to ace each subject.

The means don’t match the aims, unless there is something the MOE knows that it isn’t telling us.

The MOE says it developed this PSLE grading revamp after carrying out simulation exercises.

Why not share more details about the results of such simulation exercises with the public so we can understand better why it has implemented this new and already much-criticised system?


1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. vgybhunjim

    July 20, 2016 at 7:42 am

    The new grading system doesn’t make much differences, maybe it makes the thing look nicer without D/E/F kind of grading, with numbers instead.

    The key thing is, as long one can pass will do, after your N level just go to private schools, take your degree, then if you still got the heart to study/money/good grades, take your private degree and try to apply for local master programme. This way your cert eventually will become a local school recognized cert. You save huge amount of time, just pass will do without having to stress yourself too much, can go out to the working society to work ASAP by gaining experience and making money fast.

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