Let students start secondary school on a blank slate

Acting Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng is indeed right in saying that parents and the community have a part to play in reducing the obsession with academic excellence ("PSLE grading system set to change amid broad reforms"; April 9).

Teachers have a key role in this.

From my experience, the evaluation of a student's worth and capability begins from the moment he steps into secondary school.

Students are ushered into classrooms where they fill up a form, including details of their Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) T-scores. Some teachers also conduct non-anonymous diagnostic tests.

While the aim of these moves is to assess students' abilities, one cannot deny that there are unintended consequences.

Some teachers, consciously or subconsciously, have a mental assessment of their students. This goes on to affect their evaluation of students' subsequent project work, essays and presentations.

This is especially so in the case of subjects that allow for freedom of expression and where assessment and grading take on a highly subjective nature, such as in languages and the humanities.

This has to change.

Until the new grading system takes effect, students should be allowed to keep their T-scores confidential. Diagnostic testing should be carried out anonymously.

Secondary school is a new chapter, and all students should be allowed to start the next phase of their lives on a fresh page.

Woo Jia Qian (Miss)