Tough PSLE questions crafted in a way that allows pupils to show what they learnt: Heng

The Education Ministry has refined the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), to "craft the more challenging exam questions in a way that lets our children show what they've learnt, while keeping the PSLE standard high", Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said in a blog post on Friday, hours after the PSLE results were released.

Get the full story from The Straits Times.

Here is the post in full:

Congratulations to all our P6 students who got their PSLE results today. For those who have done well, your hard work shows - it's now time to celebrate with your family and friends. If you wish you had done better, don't give up. Remember, the PSLE is not the be-all-and-end-all. Whatever the outcome, if you work hard, you can always do better! You must never judge yourself or your friends by a number. It is much more important the kind of person you are.

Parents and friends, I was much encouraged by your comments over Facebook yesterday and today.

I hope you remembered to give your child a hug, and yourselves a pat on the back! You clearly love your children and want to boost them to love learning and do well. Some of you also pointed out that changing mindsets is easier said than done. Indeed it is.

But it is very worth doing, and we will keep giving this our best efforts - all of us in the education field are proud to be on this journey with you.

Sometime in the next few days, I will share some suggestions on choosing the right secondary school for your child. For today, please take a moment with me to affirm the good work of our schools and the excellent performance of our P6 kids.

I am glad many more students have shown mastery of the subjects and did better in the exams than previous years. I'm proud too of those resilient students who, despite health or other problems, persevered with the learning and did well. I am also proud of those who wish they could have done better. More importantly, I have faith in you. Very well done, everyone!

The saying that it takes a village to raise a child is very true. MOE and the schools have put in many programmes to level up all students. This year's results show that our efforts made a difference to many.

The students themselves showed a lot of motivation to do well. And of course, there is the love, guidance and support from parents, parent support groups, self-help groups and many others - I appreciate and respect the important role that every member of this "village" plays. All this shows me that we are on the right path, and we will continue on this path.

One small refinement we've made is to craft the more challenging exam questions in a way that lets our children show what they've learnt, while keeping the PSLE standard high.

What does this mean exactly?

Say a question requires a student to work through a few steps to get to the final answer. The question can be structured to guide the student's thinking, and give points for each of the steps he goes through, and not just for the final answer.

The question is still of a high standard, but the student finds it more accessible, and as he goes through the opening steps well, gains confidence to continue. And even if he doesn't get the right final answer, if he gets the first few parts right, he has shown that he understands his material and gets the points for it.

I heard from exam invigilators that they could see our P6 kids really go all out this year, and work on the questions right up to the last minute, rather than give up on some.

And indeed students told teachers they felt the papers gave them a chance to do well, and they felt confident about their learning. This is exactly what we want - to bring everyone's focus back from chasing points to really learning.

I sincerely hope that parents agree with us that this is the right way to help our children learn. Many more students did well this year, and as parents, we should be very proud of them.

Celebrate your children's great work today! I plan to write again soon to share some thoughts on choosing a secondary school.