PETALING JAYA: Students were informed about their the Form Three Assessment (PT3) test marks about a month before the official PT3 results were released. So there was no reason for the hue and cry on Monday.
A senior English teacher said students at her school were shown their “raw marks” before teachers keyed in their scores into the database.
“So I was quite surprised to see the outcry by parents and students,” she said.
She said the Examinations Syndicate had earlier informed teachers about the fixed scoring system for grades.
For example, only 80 marks and above would garner an A. Even if a student scores just one mark short of this, it will be a B.
“I think some of the students, even a few teachers, had hoped that the syndicate would turn a blind eye and ‘lower’ the standards based on the overall performance of students,” she said.
The teacher added that PT3 was a step in the right direction for “maintaining the value of an A”.
“I used to compare my students’ trial examination results with their scores in public examinations, and I have seen students who scored 50% in the trial paper suddenly scoring an A in the PMR.
“We’ve even gotten complaints from scholarship foundations saying that students with strings of A’s could not even speak basic English.
“I am glad that the syndicate has stood firm with the grading system, because we really need to raise the standards and give students an honest picture of how they’re doing in school,” she said.
Meanwhile, a Science teacher explained that there were several layers of “quality controls” to ensure that test papers were fairly marked.
“After we mark the papers, they will be looked at by examiners from the syndicate. If they find a discrepancy even in one paper, we would have to mark the entire pile again.
“If there’s an anomaly in students’ scores in a particular district or area, then the examiners are answerable for it.
“Also, students unhappy about the results can always ask the school to look over the test papers themselves.
“Everyone always complains about the quality of education, but when it comes to their own children, they want exceptions,” she said.
Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan said the PT3 system and the Penilian Menengah Rendah (PMR) were different as the former had more subjective questions.
For PMR, he said the level of difficulty was based on a ratio of 5:3:2 for every 10 questions.
“This means there were five questions with low difficulty level, three medium and two questions with high difficulty level.
“For the PTS the ratio is 3:4:3 meaning there are three questions with low difficulty level, four medium and three questions with high difficulty level because we have now included higher order thinking skills,” said Kamalanathan.
Kamalanathan also said the questions were prepared and kept in a question bank and schools could choose these questions and use them in assessing the students.
“So we are giving the schools and teachers the freedom to choose because only the teachers would be able to know the ability of their students,” he added.PRIYA KULASAGARAN, HEMANANTHANI SIVANANDAM, AND YUEN MEIKENG The STAR Home News Nation 24 December 2014