For holistic assessment, CCAs need higher weighting

I agree with Mr Ng Chia Wee that regardless of what is assessed in an exam, stress will always be inherent ("Right direction on education changes, but tread carefully"; last Saturday).

However, to signal the importance of attributes such as leadership and talents in areas such as arts or sports, the Ministry of Education needs to translate its words into concrete action.

Currently, only secondary school students can include co-curricular activity (CCA) points for entry into post-secondary institutions.

Perhaps we could also include CCA points in the calculation of exam scores for the PSLE and A levels.

Taking CCAs into account will help ameliorate stress instead of increasing it.

Currently, many students atthe primary and junior college (JC) levels are already involved in CCAs, but without due recognition.

By including CCAs in the computation of exam points, students who devote time and energy in their particular area of interest and in contributing totheir schools will have the assurance that their efforts will be acknowledged and rightly rewarded.

This is especially pertinent to Primary 6 pupils who competefor places in choice secondary schools.

The Direct School Admissions scheme offers a limited number of places to the cream of the crop.

If we include extra points for CCAs in PSLE scores, as practised for the Higher Mother Tongues, this may benefit many other pupils and encourage more to be more active in CCAs.

Schools will then have to provide optimal training and guidance for their pupils to ensure an equitable playing field, on a par with that for academic subjects.

For JC students, perhaps theycould have the option to offer CCA points in lieu of project work, which is currently a compulsory subject.

This will benefit those who want to or are already involved in community service and other areas of interest.

Such a move may also lead to more meaningful and longer-term engagement with their chosen community projects and other pursuits.

To reflect students' level of commitment in their CCAs, schools should also make a finer distinction between different levels of involvement.

For a more holistic assessment of students' achievements, all levels, from primary to pre-university, should take CCA involvement into account in calculating their exam scores.

Maria Loh Mun Foong (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 27, 2016, with the headline 'For holistic assessment, CCAs need higher weighting'. Print Edition | Subscribe