With streaming being abolished and replaced by full subject-based banding from 2024, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has explained how a pupil's Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) score will decide the subject levels he or she can take at the start of Secondary 1.
The 2024 Sec 1 batch will be assessed under a new PSLE scoring system which will be used from 2021. Under this revamped system, pupils will be graded using wider scoring bands ranging from Achievement Level (AL) 1 to AL8, with AL1 being the best.
The bands for English, Maths, Science and Mother Tongue will then be added up, with the best score being four, and the lowest 32.
MOE told The Straits Times that pupils with a PSLE score of four to 20 will be offered all G3 subjects - which is equivalent to the current Express course - when streaming is abolished.
Those with a score of 26 to 30 will be given a suite of G1 subjects, which is comparable to today's Normal (Technical) stream.
Pupils who get a score of between 21 and 25 could take subjects across a range of levels. Those with a score of 21 to 22 will have a mix of G3 and G2 subjects, those with 23 or 24 points will take G2 subjects, while those who score 25 will take a spread of G2 and G1 subjects. G2 is equivalent to the Normal (Academic) stream.
Education Minister Ong Ye Kung had announced in Parliament on Tuesday that the Express and Normal streams would be phased out by 2024 and be replaced with the G1, G2 and G3 subject bands. While reducing the stigma of being streamed as "Normal", the new system will allow students to learn at their own pace, while recognising their different strengths.
A student taking G2 English at Sec 1, for instance, will be able to move up to G3 as he or she gets better in the subject - a point stressed by MOE when it highlighted that how a student fares at the PSLE will not constrain the choice of subjects and their levels of difficulty.
"Unlike the current approach where the course that a student is posted to in Sec 1 determines the bulk of his subject offerings throughout his secondary education, full subject-based banding will allow students to progressively take subjects at more demanding levels... as they discover their strengths and interests, and take on a combination of subjects across different levels over time," MOE explained.
At the same time, MOE said PSLE scores "will continue to serve as a good initial gauge of the pace of learning that our students are most suited for at the beginning of Sec 1".
As for Integrated Programme schools, which allow better-performing students to skip the O levels and go straight to the A levels or International Baccalaureate, they will retain the autonomy to customise their curriculum to fit their students' needs.
Subject-based banding will largely not be implemented in these schools as their curriculum is designed differently, said an MOE spokesman, and they do not offer the national secondary curriculum leading to the N or O levels.
However, these schools have the flexibility to offer subjects at less demanding levels if students can benefit from them, said the ministry.