THE Malaysian education system has adopted a new paradigm with the introduction of the Standard Curriculum for Primary Schools (KSSR). The intention was extremely noble – to diversify the method of assessment to gauge the progress of our students. It also wanted to include questions deemed “higher order thinking” in order to produce Malaysian students who are able to apply their syllabus in a wide range of settings.
One could argue that our education system has been tailored to fit into the method of assessment used by an international assessment body such as Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa).
Like all systems, KSSR has its strengths and weaknesses that need to be examined carefully and improved.
KSSR promises to move away from our traditional mode of assessment – our national examinations such as UPSR and PMR. We now have the school-based assessment to be a second mode of assessment as in the case of UPSR and as a singular mode of assessment as in the case of PMR. The intention was to move away from being an exam-dominated education system.
However, the introduction of KSSR has led to our education system being much more exam-centric.
Schools are still using exams as the sole way to measure student performance, and they are now introducing four exams a year instead of two.
So, instead of removing stress, KSSR would be adding more stress to the current students because each examination now counts as part of their UPSR and PMR grades.
For decades, Malaysian students have used school examinations as mere tests where mistakes are tolerated. Students could fail their school examinations without fear because they knew the national examination was more important. KSSR took this away.
This is also extremely unfair to students who are late bloomers.
Every 60% scored in the school examination now constitutes losing 24% of the final UPSR grade. A student who averaged 60% in his school examination will now be walking into his UPSR exam hall with a score of 36/60. A student with an average of 70% will walk into the hall losing almost 18% of his UPSR final grade.
Additionally, having non-standardised and standardised mode of examinations at the same time to calculate the final grade is extremely unfair to students who are given hard exam questions by their school teachers or who have tough graders as their teachers.
It punishes students who are stuck in the middle in good schools but who are, technically, straight A students in a standardised exam like UPSR.
In the US, school-based exams are still used to determine a student’s progress. However, standardised exam is also used as an extra gauge.
The Malaysian education system could have used the UPSR as our standardised exam and our school-based assessment as our non-standardised mode of data collection. Both help to give a more nuanced picture of a student’s achievement.
It’s time to rethink how UPSR 2016 and PMR 2016 will be graded. Concerned Malaysian Baltimore, US The STAR Opinion Letters Wednesday, 19 August 2015