The wait is finally over!
MOE has just released more details of the changes which are going to take place, starting from the 2021 cohort. In a bid to reduce the excessive focus on academic result due to the fine differentiation of students by aggregate points, they are changing to a grade band.
Since our PM announced this change almost 3 years ago, parents have voiced tremendous disapproval at this suggestion, speculating what sort of criteria would be used as the tie-breaker when there are students with the same grades, for example 4 As or 4 Bs.
Here’s where MOE is going to make the biggest change. They are introducing 8 Achievement Levels (ALs), with AL 1 being the best. This is similar to the O Level grading system, just that the mark range is different.
|Credit: MOE press release|
The PSLE Score is the sum of ALS across the four subjects, ranging from 4 to 32, with a score of 4 being the best. Students with a score of 4 – 20 will be streamed into the Express course.
See table above for the placement outcomes of Express, N(A) and N(T) and their corresponding PSLE scores.
The other significant change is that previously, when there were students having the exact same PSLE score fighting for the last place in a school, they would be allocated to the secondary school based on a computerised balloting.
Many parents were not privy to this, but yes, for the few students in this situation, it was down to luck. In future, choice order would be the new tie-breaker.
What this means is that, say for example there are 3 students fighting for the last place in a particular school.
Student A puts it as his 1st choice, Student B puts it as his 2nd choice, and Student C puts it as his 3rd choice.
In this scenario, Student A would be given priority for the spot.
With this wider scoring bands as compared to aggregate points, we will see a higher percentage of students who will end up in this situation.
Thus, more than ever, we have to use our 6 choices judiciously.
This new scoring system looks to be the middle ground between the aggregate score (which is too fine) and grade bands of A,B,C,D (which is too broad).
The way I see it, this seems to be the most practical solution to move towards their goals of reducing an over-emphasis on chasing the last mark and hopefully free up time and space for a more holistic education and well-rounded family life.