New PSLE grading system: Success depends on mindset change, implementation

So, the verdict is out: The Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) scoring system will be based on grade bands, replacing the decades-old T-score system ("PSLE grading system set to change amid broad reforms"; April 9).

The objective of this change, as I understand it, is to trade the current emphasis on academic performance with a holistic development of children.

At face value, it seems rather straightforward. However, the implications on pupils, parents, schools and society at large are more far-reaching than we imagine.

Unlike the objective T-score system, the grade band system necessitates the introduction of non-academic criteria, which can be subjective.

For this to work, the criteria must be transparent, fair, inclusive and unambiguous. This means we need objectivity in subjectivity, which is a challenge.

Affiliation, legacy, family network, social status and clout, unfortunately, an integral part of society, are taboo.

A mindset change is needed, not only for those directly involved, but also for other facets of society, including admission to junior colleges and universities, scholarship awards, plum jobs in the civil service, and even selection of parliamentary candidates.

For the longest time, academic performance has been the basis.

In fact, the parliamentary voices which call for a change in the grading system belong to those who have benefited tremendously from the current system.

I agree with Ms Qu Aohan that society should "recognise multifarious ways of success" ("PSLE not the be-all and end-all of success", April 14).

The change in the PSLE grading system is supposed to achieve this.

But the outcome depends on how well the changes are implemented, and stakeholders' belief and perception that these are fair, inclusive and transparent.

We can look forward to challenging and exciting times ahead.

Lawrence Loh Kiah Muan