THERE was much ado over the Pentaksiran Tingkatan 3 (PT3) examination results this year. Parents and students were surprised with the less than stellar results and lower number of those scoring all As. Immediately, comparisons were made between PT3 and its predecessor, the Penilaian Menengah Rendah examination. This is unfair, as it is an entirely new method of assessment: PT3 emphasises the concept of central assessment and implementation of higher-order thinking skills’ elements in its questions, and the results should be viewed as the new data baseline for the evaluation of students’ achievements in a more dynamic and comprehensive educational setting.
PT3, which is part of the academic component in the school-based assessment (PBS), uses a variety of instruments that are more challenging to gauge students’ mastery in their various methods of presenting answers.
PBS was introduced in an effort to move beyond an examination-oriented system. Many parties had, in the past, urged for an education system that was less focused on examinations, as this would, in the long run, serve to permanently damage the self-esteem of students who get average results. Failure to secure exemplary results, it appears, continues to be perceived as failing in life. Stress is placed on attaining excellent results and adulation is heaped on those who score well.
The introduction of PBS was in response to these calls, and thus, there must be persistence to see it through. Parents need to urgently change their attitudes and not think that it is the end of the world if one less A shows up on their children’s result slips. Examinations should only be for assessing whether students comprehend what has been taught so far and not to instil fear in students nor cause them to be shrouded in an overwhelming sense of worthlessness if their results turn out to be less than exemplary.
Students should just be told to study hard and do their best. If their best does not produce a single A, then that is something that needs to be accepted without hair-pulling and hysterics on the part of their parents, who need to be reminded, once again, that examinations are not the sole yardstick of students’ worth. In making the assessment system less examination-oriented, the primary aim is to reduce students’ over-dependency on grades to gauge their final performance. It is clearly a move towards a more holistic educational development because both the academic and non-academic performance of students are taken into account.
NST Editorial 28 December 2014