Schools: Moving away from overemphasis on grades

No exams in P1, P2: Progress will be measured in other ways

Educators said bite-sized assessments would give them a more holistic understanding of pupils' progress.
Educators said bite-sized assessments would give them a more holistic understanding of pupils' progress.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Starting next year, there will be no more exams at the Primary 1 and 2 levels, but pupils' progress will still be assessed through bite-sized pieces of work such as worksheets, class work and homework.

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said earlier this week at the annual Schools Work Plan Seminar: "We know that teaching and learning comprise three important components - curricular goals and content, pedagogy and assessment, and together they form a triangle.

"Today, the three components are not balanced. As we overemphasised assessment, we inadvertently reduced the time available for schools to focus on teaching and learning. We need to redress this balance."

Educators said bite-sized assessments would give them a more holistic understanding of pupils' progress. The two exam-free years would also allow them to reflect and explore the way they teach.

Madam Siti Farhaana, year head for lower primary at Anchor Green Primary School, said: "Freeing up these two years means more time for experiential learning to take place. There will be more space and opportunities for pupils to discover their strengths, interests and improve in their areas of weaknesses."

Mr Dominic Sy, year head of the Primary 1 and 2 levels at Henry Park Primary School, said teachers would be able to "explore curriculum innovation that will further cater to the needs of our pupils and heighten their joy of learning".

Parents said the removal of exams should mean less stress for their young children who are getting used to the formal school system.

 
 
 

Said Mrs Dadina Wong, 42, whose son will start Primary 1 in Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road) next year: "I am comforted (to hear of the change). Maybe we don't have to send him for tuition - we can revise slowly with him in our own time."

However, some parents raised the concern that without a proper benchmark, they might be unable to gauge their children's standards.

Mrs Cheryl Sim, 49, who has a Primary 1 son in Tao Nan School, said: "In Primary 1, it is good not to have exams so the kids can adjust to a new learning environment. But once they are in Primary 2, it might actually be good to have a formal assessment of how they are doing."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2018, with the headline 'No exams in P1, P2: Progress will be measured in other ways'. Print Edition | Subscribe