Raise cut-off point for admission

In the revamp of the Direct School Admission (DSA) scheme, I hope that the Ministry of Education (MOE) sets out a policy that distinguishes between admission into schools offering the O-level track and those offering the six-year Integrated Programme (IP) (Focus on sport, art or specific academic talent for direct entry; March 8).

Students should be admitted into the IP only if their Primary School Leaving Examination results show that they are likely to be able to perform well in the A levels or International Baccalaureate exams without the additional preparatory step of the O levels.

Currently, to get into an IP school through DSA, a student has only to achieve the minimum PSLE score to get into the Express stream.

Is a student with such a score likely to benefit from being admitted to a top school offering the IP? He may struggle in the following years, as he competes in the classroom against far more academically gifted schoolmates.

Compounding the problem, the student must devote long hours to the sport or other activity through which he was admitted.

The primary consideration in school admissions must always be the best interest of the students.

Admitting a student into a programme where he does not have much of a chance to succeed is doing him a great disservice, especially if there is a more suitable alternative.

This matter cannot be left in the hands of schools, which understandably want to get the best athletes or performers, or in the hands of parents or students, who would be more likely to select top schools.

The MOE should impose a higher cut-off point for acceptance into the IP via the DSA.

Tan Soon Meng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 15, 2017, with the headline 'Raise cut-off point for admission'. Print Edition | Subscribe