Singapore

Petition calls for changes to new PSLE system

Parents say students who are exempted from mother tongue languages are at a disadvantage

An online petition has been launched calling on the Education Ministry (MOE) to change the way the new Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) scoring system will be applied to children exempted from studying mother tongue languages (MTLs).

As of last night, the petition posted on Change.org on Saturday by parent Marianne Wee had garnered more than 600 signatures.

Madam Wee and many other parents who signed the petition believe the new scores are pegged too low compared with the Standard Level subjects and will disadvantage their children.

Responding to the petition yesterday, the ministry again explained the new scores and said that its rationale is grounded in its philosophy of underscoring the importance of studying the MTLs.

Under the new PSLE scoring system that will take effect in 2021, each Standard Level PSLE subject will be scored using eight bands known as Achievement Levels (AL) - from AL1, the best score, to AL8.

The total PSLE score will be a sum of the scores for the four subjects, with possible scores ranging from four to 32.

Foundation Level subjects - which cover a subset of the curriculum covered at the Standard Level for those who are weaker in the subject - will be pegged to AL6 to AL8 of the Standard Level subjects.

The MOE had informed parents two weeks ago that pupils will be assigned an MTL score so that they have a PSLE score comprising four subjects for Secondary 1 posting.

To determine the assigned MTL score, reference will be made to MTL scores of other pupils who have achieved similar scores in English, mathematics and science. But the MTL score assigned will be between AL6 and AL8, similar to the Standard Level equivalent for Foundation Level subjects.

The MOE explained the pegging, saying: "As the score for Foundation Level subjects will be pegged to AL6 to 8, it is again not fair if another student who did not take any MTL examinations at PSLE can be assigned a score better than AL6..."

Madam Wee said the changes are unexpected, unfair and pegged too low.

She and several others are calling for the ministry to stick to the current scoring system for all those already in primary school.

Explained Madam Wee: "Such changes should not be dropped on students in the midst of their curriculum."

But another group of parents whose children have special learning needs - such as dyslexia, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder - object to the changes for other reasons.

A parent, who gave her name as Madam L. Tan, said: "It's not that I am aiming for a top school for my autistic son. I will be happy if he makes it to the Express stream. It's just the principle of it. Why disadvantage a child who is already born with disadvantages?"

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Education