‘No negative uproar’ from parents over plan to reduce school exams: Ong Ye Kung

05-Oct-2018 Intellasia | Yahoo News Singapore | 6:00 AM Print This Post

There was “no negative uproar” from parents over last week’s announcement about the reduction of school examinations by a quarter, said minister for Education Ong Ye Kung on Wednesday (3 October).

“Fortunately, and to my great relief, there was no negative uproar, and I am deeply grateful to all the parents who wrote encouraging and supportive messages to me since I made the announcement,” said Ong during the opening address at the Singapore International Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) conference.

However, he noted that they have expressed “valid worries and apprehension” about the changes.

From next year, there will be neither assessments nor exams for Primary 1 and 2 pupils, said Ministry of Education (MOE) in a press release last Friday.

Teachers will conduct discussions and quizzes to gauge their pupils’ learning progress, and there will be no grades given.

Presently, pupils from both levels have to take weighted assessments, while Primary 2 pupils also have to take a end of the year exam.

Mid-year exams for students in Primary 3, Primary 5, Secondary 1 and Secondary 3 will also be removed in phases from 2019, starting with the Secondary 1 level. All students from Primary 3 to Secondary 4 or 5 will also not have more than one graded assessment per subject per school term.

As schools move away from assessments and exams, report books for primary and secondary levels will no longer indicate the pupils’ class and level positions.

“Examinations have become such a comfortable security blanket that a large part of the education experience revolves around examinations,” stressed Ong, who added that the ministry spent three days discussing the matter with principals and vice principals who supported the move.

“They are in fact very glad that time has been returned to the schools, for better teaching and learning. MOE has given guidelines to the schools to limit the number of tests that will count towards end of the year results,” said Ong.

Noting that education “goes far beyond marks and grades”, Ong stressed that Singapore had been “over-reliant on this security blanket” and needed to “focus on the true spirit of learning”.

“We are reducing examinations by 25 per cent, in a calibrated way, not removing them entirely. We are achieving a better balance between joy and rigour with this change,” said Ong.

With the reduction in examinations, schools will have about three more weeks of curriculum time for every two school years, according to Ong.

“We will use this time to teach you better, so that you can learn better, because teachers don’t have to rush through the curriculum in order to prepare for examinations,” added Ong.

He noted that parents worry that schools or tuition centres will undo the change by re-introducing other assessments that are not called “examinations”, like common tests, mock exams, or prelims, “to fill up the void we freed up”.

He strongly urged tuition centres not to simulate examination-like conditions to make up for “lost examinations”, as doing so would result in “preying on the apprehension and anxieties of parents and students”.

“Instead, try to understand why these changes are important to better prepare our young for the future, and help explain that to parents. Don’t undo what we intend to do,” he said.



Category: Singapore

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