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Singapore abandons traditional exam rankings

Singapore abandons traditional exam rankings

The country’s government has decided to abolish the decades-old student ranking system for primary and secondary school children

The measure was in order to encourage an education that is more learning-focused in the country’s schools.

The country’s education minister Ong Ye Kung stood firmly behind the decision, by stating that this move will show students that “learning is not a competition.”

School reports are all set to completely abandon information such as Class and level mean, Minimum and maximum marks, Underlining and/or colouring of failing marks, Pass/fail for end-of-year result, Mean subject grades, Overall total marks, and L1R5 (English plus five relevant subjects), L1R4, EMB3 (English, maths, best three subjects) and EMB1 for lower secondary levels.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) stated that the change is to slowly shift the focus of overly concerned students from comparisons in their learning progress.

Marks and grades will be replaced with “qualitative descriptors” to evaluate pupil progress. There will still be Parent-teacher meetings to relay information pertaining to the child’s progress in school.

From next year, pupils of Primary 1 and 2 will be exempted from examinations while their assessment will not count towards an overall grade. Focus on academic scores will be reduced, and each subject will be presented as a whole number, with decimal points—after rounding it off.

The Minister of Education further stated that the teachers will continue to gather information regarding a pupil’s learning through active discussions, homework, and quizzes. And the gathered information will be given to parents during parent-teacher meetings.

In an address to some 1,700 school leaders earlier this week, Mr. Ong stated: “Notwithstanding, the report book should still contain some form of yardstick and information to allow students to judge their relative performance, and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.”

He also said: “I know that ‘coming in first or second’, in class or level, has traditionally been a proud recognition of a student’s achievement. But removing these indicators is for a good reason so that the child understands from young that learning is not a competition, but a self-discipline they need to master for life.”

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