From next year, Normal stream students from 12 schools will be allowed to take subjects they are strong in at the Express level from Secondary 1. To do so, they have to do well in these subjects at the Primary School Leaving Examination.
Currently, these students are allowed to do subjects at the Express level only when they reach Sec 3, depending on their performance. They will take the O-level examinations for these subjects in Sec 4.
After the pilot with the first 12 schools, the Education Ministry (MOE) will roll it out in phases to all secondary schools, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said at his Ministry's workplan seminar on Wednesday. He did not give a timeline.
He gave more details on the change which was announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally last month. The move was intended to allow students who are strong in some subjects to build on their strengths. About 40 per cent of each Sec 1 cohort enter the Normal stream. On average, about 4,000, or one-third of each Sec 4 Normal (Academic) cohort, take O-level subjects.
Principals have welcomed the change, saying it would boost the morale of Normal stream students. It will also give students more time to prepare for the O-level exams for these subjects.
On the move to replace the PSLE T-score with wider bands, Mr Heng said the Ministry will allow enough time, over a few years, for schools, parents and students to get used to the idea of the new scoring system before making the change.
PM Lee had also announced earlier that the direct school admission criteria will be broadened so that top schools will admit students with special qualities such as character and resilience. Mr Heng said details will be released later.