Banding doesn't resolve resource issue

I am concerned about the inclination towards grade banding at the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) ("What will new grading system look like?"; Sunday).

I am completely in agreement with the proposal that PSLE grades should reflect a pupil's ability, and not his ability relative to his peers.

However, this is not the only purpose of the PSLE. In fact, it is only a very small point in favour of grade banding.

The PSLE is also intended to group students by their ability so that secondary schools can teach each group more efficiently ("Secondary school placement a key issue" by Ms Alice Heng Wang Cheng; Monday).

Every parent wants to send his children to the top schools. However, the simple problem is that there are limited places at the top schools.

At the end of the day, the top schools can take only a certain number of students.

The schools at the next "tier" can take the next level of students.

With or without grade banding, how is the end result different from using the PSLE T-score?

If grade banding makes it harder to pick out the best students, then the streaming mechanism becomes less efficient.

If grade banding is too fine-grained, then it would be no different from the current system.

Grade banding does not solve the resource allocation problem that is the principle behind the existing PSLE system.

Switching to grade banding only wastes taxpayer money on meaningless changes.

We should not change the system just for the sake of change.

We should focus on making every school a good school instead.

Sum Siew Kee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2016, with the headline 'Banding doesn't resolve resource issue'. Print Edition | Subscribe