I refer to the report about the effects of the change in the Primary School Leaving Examination scoring system ("Grade system means 'one subject can't save another'"; last Saturday).
While there are benefits and detriments to both the current T-score and the proposed letter-grade systems, the T-score one encourages excellence.
Under the T-score system, pupils can "make up" for a weak subject by doing very well in other subjects, but this would not work with letter grades. Proponents of the letter-grade system argue that it ensures pupils spend more time on their weaker subjects, especially if their better subjects are of a sufficient level to get the highest letter grade.
This places unnecessary stress on pupils, if they are constantly made to work on weaker subjects that they may be less interested in; they may even eventually lose interest completely. Why not let children spend more time on subjects they enjoy?
A letter-grade system also fails to reward pupils for being exceptional at certain subjects. Instead, it rewards pupils for being "just good enough" at all the subjects. This is likely to encourage pupils to study "just enough" to get an A and not put in extra effort to go beyond the absolutely necessary. It discourages excellence because performing excellently in a single subject does not count towards the final score.
Many say that the T-score system sorts pupils too finely. This would not be an issue if parents did not make such a big deal out of the exact scores their children received.
A child's self-worth should not be based on a number, and I appeal to parents to reflect this in their actions.
Seah Yu Fen Samantha (Miss)
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