New system not as merit-based

Is the new Primary School Leaving Examination scoring system really better than the current T-score system ("New PSLE scoring system to have 8 grade bands", July 14)?

Let us look at the changes resulting from the new system:

- A pupil scoring 89 marks would be considered unlucky because his achievement is one point short of the top Achievement Level, AL1. Yet scoring 89 marks is no better than scoring 85, a four-point difference.

It is even worse if he scores 44 marks because the grade awarded would be no different from someone who scores only 20. Is this really better than the T-score?

- The new scoring system claims a pupil will not be judged in comparison with his peers. This is not very meaningful because PSLE is essentially used for deciding which secondary school a pupil can go to and this requires a comparison of peers' achievement.

- Because of the banding, more students will be lumped in the same grade band, so getting into the popular secondary schools has to be decided by choice of secondary schools and balloting.

The latter depends purely on luck, while the former is a combination of luck and parents' effort in assessing which secondary school their children can get into.

The new system thus changes secondary school admission from a merit-based system to one which is partly based on merit and partly based on luck, as well as parents' effort in assessing which secondary school their children can get into. Is this really better than the existing system?

Tan Peng Boon