PSLE aggregate score to be scrapped, other education changes revealed in Parliament

PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - A new scoring system for the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) will be introduced in 2021, in an attempt to move our school system away from "an excessive focus on academics". In its place will be "wider scoring bands", similar to the O-Levels and A-Levels.

The new scoring system, which will affect pupils in Primary 1 this year, was announced by Acting Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng in Parliament today (April 8) during the Committee of Supply debate.

Mr Ng said that the current PSLE aggregate score, or T-score, was "too precise" and may have created unhealthy competition among children as it is calculated based on how the pupil do relative to their peers.

The new system will no longer score the pupils by comparing them to their peers, and will be a method that is "more reflective of a student's learning and level of mastery".

Together with this change, the Ministry of Education (MOE) intends to make adjustments to the Secondary school posting system as well, Mr Ng revealed.

Details of the changes to the PSLE scoring system will be revealed in the next two to three months, he said.

Mr Ng also said that the Direct School Admission (DSA) scheme, which was introduced in 2004 to promote holistic education by giving students the chance to be recognised for "a range of achievements and talents when seeking admission into secondary school", will be reviewed.

The Straits Times' education correspondent Sandra Davie recently pointed out that the scheme has been abused by some schools to "chope" academically bright students.

Mr Ng said in Parliament that it is "timely" to see how to "realign the implementation of this scheme with its original policy intent".

More to be admitted to tertiary institutions based on aptitude

Acting Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung said in Parliament that polytechnics and universities will be raising the proportion of students admitted based on their "unique strengths and talents", apart from academic results.

MOE will allow 75 courses, or one-third of the total number of polytechnic courses, to admit up to 50 per cent of their students based on "more holistic aptitude-based assessment", he said.

Universities will be allowed to admit 15 per cent of their students based on the students' aptitude. This is up from the current 10 per cent.

A new aptitude-based admission exercise will be put in place for Institute of Technical Education students going to polytechnics, Mr Ong said.