Children In Singapore Will No Longer Be Ranked By Exam Results| Here’s Why

Singapore has long been an educational high-achiever, endorsing rote learning and long study hours to prepare school children toward exam success. But change is in the air as the island state rethinks its approach to education.

Whether a child finishes first or last will no longer be indicated in primary and secondary school report books starting from 2019 in Singapore, – a move which Education Minister Ong Ye Kung hopes will show students that “learning is not a competition”.

Discussions, homework and quizzes are set to replace marks and grades as the preferred method of collecting information on the performance of young primary school pupils. Starting in 2019, exams for primary years 1 and 2 students will be abolished.

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Older primary and secondary students will also study in a less competitive environment. Marks for each subject will be rounded off to the nearest whole number — without decimal places — to lower the emphasis on academic success.

Report books will not just stop showing a student’s position in relation to class or cohort. The information to be dropped include:

  • Class and level mean
  • Minimum and maximum marks
  • Underlining and/or colouring of failing marks
  • Pass/fail for end-of-year result
  • Mean subject grades
  • Overall total mark
  • L1R5 (English plus five relevant subjects), L1R4 , EMB3 (English, maths, best three subjects) and EMB1 for lower secondary levels

The Ministry of Education said that the change is to allow each student to focus on his or her learning progress and discourage them from being overly concerned about comparisons. The MOE said that teachers will continue to gather information about pupils’ learning through discussions, homework, and quizzes.

Schools will use other ways like “qualitative descriptors”, in place of marks and grades, to evaluate pupils’ progress at these two levels.

For older students in primary schools and secondary schools, marks for each subject will be rounded off and presented as a whole number, without decimal points – to reduce the focus on academic scores. Parents will continue to receive information about their child’s progress in school during parent-teacher meetings.

In an address to some 1,700 school leaders in September 2018, Mr Ong said:

“I know that ‘coming in first or second’, in class or level, has traditionally been a proud recognition of a student’s achievement. But removing these indicators is for a good reason, so that the child understands from young that learning is not a competition, but a self-discipline they need to master for life.

“Notwithstanding, the report book should still contain some form of yardstick and information to allow students to judge their relative performance, and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.”

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