3 Biggest Changes in the Educational Landscape 2019-2021: Part 3


2021: Changes to PSLE Grade

In 2021, the PSLE grade will not be a number, but the score will be derived by the band of each subject, similar to how the ‘O’ levels is scored.  It was announced last year but will only be implemented in 2021.

PSLE Grades

Credit: MOE, Singapore

The objective of this change is clear – to stop parents from stressing their high performing children to squeeze out the last few marks. As the current PSLE grade is a number, every single mark from each subject contributes to the total score. This is especially so when the child has one or two weaker subjects that need a boost by the stronger subjects. The chase for the last few marks is especially stressful.

Let us look at a possible scenario. A child wants to enter the Integrated Programme. However, he is not very good in Chinese. To ensure he scores as high as possible, his parents make him do a lot of additional Math and Science (his best subjects) lessons. With the help of his exceptional Math and Science results (through lots of sweat and tears), he scores high enough to enter the Integrated Programme.

In the new system, no matter how well he does for Math and Science, he can only score AL1 for both Math and Science. Let’s say his English is AL2 and his Chinese is AL3, then his total PSLE grade of 7 might not guarantee entry into an Integrated Programme school.

What this means?

What this means it that parents will stop stressing their children to perform extremely well for their better subjects and start getting their children to score as high as possible for their weaker subjects as well. Students who are equally good in all subjects will not suffer (when does this group ever suffer anyway?), but for the rest of us (who may have weaknesses in one or two subjects), the stress has not really changed.

There are also some unknowns. I am unsure how this impacts what scores are required to enter secondary schools since this is a new system. Would there be a ‘pileup’ of AL4s at certain elite schools? To be honest, I am not totally convinced with MOE’s solution of using computerised balloting as the final tie-breaker. Furthermore, there is no news on how it affects affiliated schools. I guess we will know more once this has been implemented.

My advice to parents is that, if you notice your child is lagging behind in some subjects, get them help as quickly as you can. However, for subjects your child is doing well, it might not be necessary to send them for additional lessons, as it may not help them as much. This applies to all subjects equally. Therefore, I think that this change has indirectly made all subjects equally important.

For more information, you can download MOE’s infosheet here.

Written by: Richard Leong

This is Part 3 of the ‘Three Biggest Changes in the Educational Landscape 2019 – 2021.

To read more about Part 1 (Removal of School Exams and Grading from Report Cards), click here.

To read more about Part 2 (Full Subject Based Banding), click here.

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