I guess this is the million dollar question. Since the policy changes will not affect this year's P6 cohort, I expect it is the parents of the P5 children who are most concerned and eagerly awaiting the details of how the banding of PSLE will shift or be redefined. Without the T-score as a numerical benchmark, everyone is probably wondering how this will affect the Secondary School 'cut-off' and intake criteria.
What is your mindset towards PSLE and your definition of success? If you are a relatively well-balanced parent/student, you are likely to accept and adapt to any policy changes that come your way. You probably set realistic expectations and are able to manage stress relatively well. In the big scheme of things, any changes in education policies should not adversely affect the outcomes or entry into a school of your choice.
|How do you define success?|
- students who blindly pursue leadership positions in school / community service programmes / external competitions etc not because they are passionate about the opportunity / programme/ role /community but because it looks good on their portfolio / testimonial
- parents who send their straight 'A' child(ren) for additional tuition and enrichment classes or parents who hire tutors to help their kids with tuition homework
- parents who flood their kids with excessive assessment books / ten-year-series / revision guidebooks even when the child's school does provide sufficient resources
- parents who hound their child's teachers through phone calls/emails/SMS on a regular basis to track their child's progress in school
I wish I could say the above examples are exaggerations but the truth is, they are based on real people I have encountered in my years as a teacher. Parents/students who fall under this category tend to be insecure because they view academic success as a direct measure of their worth/parental success. Regardless of any education policy changes, very kiasu Singaporeans will complain for a while then proceed to strategize in order to engineer the best possible outcome for their kids/themselves - at all cost, it would seem. Unfortunately, such parents/students also tend to be defensive, so let's move on.
Most stakeholders agree that removing the PSLE T-score is a good move (probably way overdue anyway). It will certainly help to reduce the fixation on a numerical score which has always been computed in an opaque manner, since it depends on variables unique to each cohort. Instead of a single PSLE top scorer, we will likely end up with a group of top scorers (with 4 A*s) each year. This is good for morale of high achievers and will possibly reinforce the notion of 'every school a good school', especially if the spread of top scorers span a few different schools each year. Furthermore, there will no longer be an indication of a bottom score, which will likely help to cushion the blow for those who have failed the exam.
|How do you stand out in a competitive society?|
Our PM has made it quite clear that where education is concerned, any policies made will NOT change the inherently meritocratic nature of the Singapore Education System. Since a meritocratic system inherently encourages division, ranking and differentiation based on ability, our societal focus on academic achievement is here to stay. Making technical changes (such as removing PSLE T-score) will not alter reality. We can only console ourselves with the knowledge that Singapore is not really unique in this aspect - we see similar trends in other meritocratic societies such as China, Japan and UK.
Anyway, feel free to leave a comment below. I'll probably do a follow up post in time to come, after the policy details are released. Stay tuned!