Grade system means 'one subject can't save another'

Grade system means 'one subject can't save another'

SINGAPORE - While many parents welcome the removal of the T-score for the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), some now fear that pupils who are weaker in certain subjects may lose out under a new grades-based scoring system to be introduced.

Currently, secondary schools admit pupils based on their T-score, which is aggregated from all four subjects.

The main criticism of the T-score is that it sorts children too finely as it is based on how well a child does relative to his peers.

At the same time, however, under the T-score system, it is possible for a pupil to "make up" for a weak subject by doing very well in the other three. This means he can still get a good T-score with three very high A*s and one B.

This strategy would not work if letter grades were used instead, as they are in the O- and A- level examinations, said some parents.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had announced at the National Day Rally on Sunday that in a few years' time, the T-score will be replaced with grade bands.

Under the new system, pupils will get a grade band similar to how students get A1 to F9 for the O levels. These grades will then be converted into points for admission to secondary schools.

The Ministry of Education has yet to give details on how many points each grade will get, and whether an A*, for instance, will get proportionately more points than an A, or extra points.

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