Grading for national exams reflects actual performance

We refer to the recent views and observations on the improvement in the GCE-level national examinations results ("The case of the ever-improving exam results" by Mr Sum Siew Kee, last Tuesday; "Ensure quality of exam grades" by Ms Maria Loh Mun Foong, Forum Online, last Wednesday; and "Many reasons for results that are ever improving" by Mr Lee Teck Chuan, last Thursday).

We assure Singaporeans that the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) has rigorous processes in place to uphold the standards of national exams and ensure that the marks and grades awarded are accurate, reliable and fair.

The panel involved in the development of question papers and grading for our GCE-level national exams comprises experienced teachers, assessment and curriculum specialists from the University of Cambridge International Examinations, the Ministry of Education (Singapore), and the SEAB.

They ensure that question papers are developed based on assessment objectives which are aligned to the teaching syllabus and learning outcomes, and that the overall demands of the respective exams are comparable year on year.

Examiners are trained to understand the mark schemes and apply them accurately and consistently.

Grades are awarded based on the quality of candidates' work and whether they meet the expected achievement standards.

Due credit is awarded for candidates' answers that show sound understanding and proper application of concepts and skills relevant to the context of the questions and the syllabuses.

Based on these processes, the overall standards of the exams have been maintained year on year. Improvements in cohort results are not the result of artificial "grade inflation" but genuinely reflect improvements in the students' actual ability and performance.

This can be attributed to the good teaching programmes, teachers' deep commitment to helping their students learn better and students' motivation to learn.

We thank the writers for their feedback and assure them that the grading process for our national exams is rigorous and reliable.

Tan Lay Choo (Ms)
Chief Executive
Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 01, 2016, with the headline 'Grading for national exams reflects actual performance'. Print Edition | Subscribe