I REFER to the reports “No easy end to SPM Chinese saga” and “We need a thorough reform” (Sunday Star, March 13).
One of my tuition students, like many top-performing students in the recent SPM exam, also lamented that she scored Grade As in nine subjects but got only a B in Chinese Language.
Apparently, students who took other subjects like Bible Knowledge and English Literature also complained about their relatively lower grades for the aforesaid subjects.
Year in, year out when results are released, high achievers understandably are not satisfied with the score they get, presumably because they are not aware of how the grading is done by the authorities.
Perhaps the authorities should be more transparent and inform the public, parents and students of the marking and grading system in public examinations.
I suppose the exam authorities convert the marks that the candidates achieved on every exam paper into grades, and subsequently scaling the marks and grading the students to fit an appropriate normal distribution curve.
Unfortunately, this system of grading does not truly reflect the students’ performance especially when many students do exceptionally well and score high marks in the exam. Because of the normal distribution curve, not all of these high-performing students will get A or A+.
To avoid any unnecessary suspicions and doubts, the exam papers should be marked in such a way that the mark and grade reflect how well a student has achieved the learning outcomes and in accordance with the marking scheme.
To my knowledge, most schools use the criteria referenced framework in their monthly or term tests and assessments or examinations, which means assessment is made on the basis of performance defined by pre-specified criteria, rather than norm-referenced approaches where assessment is made on the basis of performance relative to that of other members of the class.
Ideally, the marking schemes should be made available to the students so that they know how evaluations and assessments are done and processed; how marks and grades are determined; and ultimately how these marks and corresponding grades are recorded on their certificates.
Certainly, this format of exam certificates will be more comprehensive and informative to colleges and universities.
It would also be absolutely beneficial to employers who may be wondering how some students who have scored Grade A+ in English Language are not able to string a sentence together.
If the marks are also recorded beside the grades, then the employers will get a clearer picture of the academic profile of the students.
I firmly believe that many stakeholders, in particular parents and students, will accept the adoption of the criteria referenced framework in public examinations because of the transparency and accountability in its assessment. Thomas Kok The STAR Home News Opinion Letters 15 Mar 2016