We have now PT3 (Pentaksiran Tingkatan Tiga or Form 3 Assessment), which is a combination of PBS, as well as having some exam papers being set and their marking schemes predetermined by the ministry.
These papers are marked and graded by the same school teachers. The final results are announced by the ministry after some “coordination and standardisation” have been done.
Teachers play a vital role in ensuring success of every aspect of the school-based assessments.
While PBS is promoted as the panacea for our overly exam-focused school system, some aspects of PBS continue to be the source of concern and uncertainty among students, parents, teachers and other stakeholders.
A common complaint is that the assessments vary from teacher to teacher, class to class and school to school.
Many of the school assessments deal with subjective answers and reports.
Teachers have to be objective and fair in their markings.
Although the ministry has assured time and again that its coordinating officers are on the ground to ensure that there is “standardisation” at all levels, the task is mammoth. It is made more difficult given the short time-span between final submission of students’ work and announcement of results.
How do you eliminate human biases and prejudices, given the magnitude of supervision and checking required to ensure fair play? Students and parents are hesitant to complain or bring this up.
But isn’t it odd that sometimes, all in a class get a good grade/band for a certain subject while in another class, not a single student get the good grade/band? Assessments can be very subjective.
A lot depends on the teacher. Worse if a teacher decides not to “like” a particular class. Then it’s just a blanket low grade/band for all in the class.
This can be disappointing and de-motivating when students are not acknowledged based on their actual performance. And parents want to know, “Is an ‘A’ for English given by a school in a rural setting the same as the ‘A’ awarded by a school in urban Damansara Utama?”
Also, projects carried out in an urban setting differ much from those in a rural setting; with the former being more complex in most cases.
Will teachers be biased in favouring complexity of projects rather than merely seeking out the necessary “research” and “report” ingredients involved? If teachers are careless, students from rural setting can be unduly penalised.
After a few years, some less-than- responsible teachers have become “smart” in handling PBS marking and scoring. Their modus operandi seems to be to simply give good marks to good students and give average and median grades to the rest, sometimes without thoroughly go through the answer scripts or the reports submitted.
This way, nobody complains! The good ones get good marks, while the average ones get their marks and the poor ones get better marks! This is making a mockery of the whole assessment system!
The plus side of PBS is the assessments done on other aspects of a child’s development. This includes his participation and achievements in sports and co-curricular activities.
Here the measurements are more objective. You can’t “cheat” on your sports and co-curricular achievements. Nevertheless, teachers in charge have to be diligent in entering all relevant data and perform all the necessary calculations accordingly.
Then, there are the assessments on a student’s psychometrics. Though these measurements can be both objective and subjective, the outputs are very much personal and not subject to competition as in the case of cognitive and academic measurements.
So, usually there are no “objections” here. The students and their parents should be thankful if teachers conduct the tests professionally and reveal to them the strengths and weaknesses in their personality traits and characteristics.
Hence, teachers play a vital role in ensuring the success of every aspect of PBS. Taken seriously, and with selfless commitment from teachers, PBS is the way forward especially at the primary and lower secondary levels, when children are in their prime developmental stages of their school career.