Written by Ashley Koh

What happened?

In efforts to reduce the emphasis on school grades, the Ministry of Education (MOE) announced that it will remove mid-year examinations for Primary 3 and 5, as well as Secondary 1 and 3 students over the next three years. Primary 1 and 2 students will also have all of their weighted assessments and exams removed from 2019 onwards. As of now, Primary 1 students only have weighted assessments, while Primary 2 students have both weighted assessments and year-end exams. A limit that restricts the number of graded assessments up to one per subject per school term will also be implemented for students from Primary 3 to Secondary 5. Consequently, teachers would switch to the use of qualitative descriptors to account for their student’s academic progress. As such, MOE hopes that students are “provided with adequate time and space to adjust to the increased curriculum demands”.


How are my parents going to compare my grades if I don’t have exams?

They don’t. This move is part of MOE’s initiative to shift away from the narrow focus on grades and to ‘improve the balance between the joy and rigour of education’. To emphasise that learning is not meant to be a competition, MOE now requires report books to remove class and cohort rankings of students in primary and secondary levels. Marks given for assessments and exams will also be rounded off to minimise unreasonable focus on grades and allow students to inculcate a sense of self-discipline towards learning. Furthermore, Primary 1 and 2 will eventually be gradeless. MOE will adjust the academic criteria for Edusave awards to recognise positive attitudes towards learning such as diligence, curiosity, and enthusiasm. Education Minister Ong Ye Kung also mentioned that this initiative will encourage educators to creatively search for teaching plans that enhance their enthusiasm to learn while remaining firm on the importance of PSLE. Meanwhile, MOE still has not mentioned anything about abolishing homework.  

[Photo taken from “mailer_diablo”]

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