PSLE grading revamp

A step towards holistic education

It is heartening to see that the Ministry of Education has decided to remove the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) T-score from 2021, and use grade bands instead ("PSLE grading system set to change amid broad reforms"; last Saturday).

This is a good way to reduce the emphasis on academic scores and reduce the pressure parents put on their children when they want their children to get good PSLE T-scores.

The Ministry of Education has been gradually shifting to holistic education and has tried to focus not just on academic areas, but also on non-academic ones, to better equip children with skills and values they will need for life.

Perhaps one way to better incorporate the idea of holistic education in the PSLE would be to include another domain, where grading of pupils' participation in the arts, sports and community work could be included in PSLE scores.

Assessment often drives how people pursue education.

If non-academic areas are given weight in the computation of PSLE grades, parents and pupils will be encouraged to not just focus on their studies, but to also not neglect other areas of personal development.

This will allow parents and children to place more emphasis on learning essential life skills which cannot be learnt through books or by studying.

In order for the PSLE grading revamp to reap benefits, the mindsets of parents and children need to change too, away from the single-minded focus on chasing better grades to outperform other pupils.

Ong Si Min (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2016, with the headline 'A step towards holistic education'. Print Edition | Subscribe