We thank Forum writer Cha Yeow Siah for his feedback on the difficulty of the 2021 PSLE mathematics paper and its impact on pupils' academic results and mental well-being (Tough PSLE paper places needless toll on pupils, parents, Oct 5).
We fully understand parents' concerns over how the Covid-19 situation has impacted their children's learning and examination performance, and would like to assure all parents and pupils that the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) has processes in place to ensure that this cohort of pupils will not be disadvantaged by these exceptional circumstances.
The PSLE mathematics examination is aligned to the primary mathematics syllabus taught in schools, and the standard of the examination paper as a whole is comparable to past years'.
In setting examination questions, a panel of test developers, comprising assessment specialists from the SEAB and curriculum specialists from the Ministry of Education, adheres to a test blueprint and well-established test development protocol that ensures this. The overall standard of any examination paper is determined by all questions as a whole, instead of one or two questions.
Every examination paper, including the 2021 PSLE mathematics paper, has an appropriate balance of easy, moderate and challenging questions to cater to pupils of different abilities and mastery of the subject.
Challenging questions are also carefully structured into smaller parts to help most pupils attempt them, though not all pupils are expected to be able to solve all questions in the examination. Regardless of whether the question is fully completed, credit will be given for attempts that demonstrate the relevant knowledge and skills.
While we shift away from the overly fine differentiation of pupils academically in our education systems, a judicious level of differentiation in the national examination is still necessary to endorse pupils' understanding and mastery of each subject, which will be mapped to the different achievement levels.
We encourage parents to continue supporting and affirming their children's efforts in learning, hard work and for having done their best.
The PSLE is one checkpoint in a pupil's lifelong learning journey, and our education system caters for multiple pathways to allow every child to develop his strengths and interests to his fullest potential.
Yue Lip Sin
Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board