PSLE 2021 - Reconciling Ends With Means (Final Pt. 3)


At the PSLE level, the singular practical importance of scoring well is to raise one's chances of securing admission into a secondary school of one's choice. The higher one's PSLE score, the better one's chances are. This is the heart of the issue.

And because the PSLE is a measure of academic (only) performance, it is inevitable that the large part of a student's time and energy would be spent in pursuit of that perfect or near perfect score in the English, Mathematics, Science and Mother Tongue papers.

When we tell students we want them to be more well rounded, we are really telling them they should parcel out a portion of their time normally spent on studies on some other equally constructive or beneficial activity. This could conceivably happen as long as students and their parents feel that doing so does not jeopardise that seat in their secondary school of choice.

Under the ALs system, S1 Posting will continue to be based on academic merit. Thus it would seem the ALs system, in itself, is not meant to be a mechanism that would persuade students and parents that time invested in extra-academic activities is also time well spent. Students will need to work just as hard on academics to get into the school of their choice, wider scoring bands notwithstanding.

If our end objective is to produce well rounded students, the change in PSLE score reporting would perhaps be more beneficial if it were augmented by changes in the curriculum or mechanisms that actually reward 'well roundedness' in tangible terms one way or another. We know where we want to go, but getting there is no easy task.

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