December 11th, 2016

Testing and supporting struggling students

The Education Ministry has come up with a test that assesses pupils with learning difficulties and helps them define their strengths and skills, to move on to the next level.

THE Year Six boy carefully counts the change and hands the money to his “customer” on the other side of the counter.

The “customer’ has bought some popiah from his “stall’ to have for her mid-morning break.

Just behind him is his teacher who observes the transaction. She takes note of the cash he has as the boy puts it away in the till.

The teacher’s presence at the “stall” is to grade her pupil for his basic counting ability and his interactive and conversational skills with his customer.

Her rating of the pupil is a requirement that has been outlined in the Pentaksiran Alternatif Sekolah Rendah (PASR).

Introduced in February, the PASR is an assessment to gauge pupils with learning disabilities who have between six and eight years of schooling. It is similar in concept to how mainstream Year Six pupils are gauged in the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR).

The PASR objective is to assess pupils’ aptitude for numbers, their ability to interact with others and learn a skill.It also aims to measure the achievement and the development level of special needs pupils using an integrated assessment approach which encourages meaningful learning by using skills that can be applied in real life.

Prior to the PASR implementation, pupils with learning disabilities did not have any alternative to cater to their learning needs.

In fact, there has so far been no centralised assessment at all for special needs pupils.

While no single test or evaluation can capture a child’s full spectrum of strengths and challenges, an assessment like the PASR helps teachers gauge their pupils to some extent.

Examinations Syndicate Alternative Assessment Development Sector head Mohd Satar Ramli says the Education Ministry wanted a fair way to assess these pupils.

“We explored and studied the assessment instruments used in foreign countries and found that they had modified their mainstream syllabus to suit the pupils’ needs,” he adds.

Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid (second from left) presents Khoo Jenny (second from right), a special needs student from SK Bukit Rahman Putra, Sungai Buloh, with her PASR certificate. — File photo
Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid (second from left) presents Khoo Jenny (second from right), a special needs student from SK Bukit Rahman Putra, Sungai Buloh, with her PASR certificate. — File photo

“We didn’t want to modify the national syllabus for special needs pupils just for the sake of doing so,” he adds, saying that the ministry wants to make sure the assessment report has a purpose in helping and defining the pupil’s development to the next level.

He says the ministry is taking a “gentle approach’’ as the children are sensitive.

In 2016, 2,550 pupils from 738 schools took the PASR.

One of the ways the ministry is using a gentle approach for this assessment is to do away with grades.

Instead, candidates are given a competency level ranking.

“They are either “not competent”, “competent” and “more than competent”.

Under the PASR, there is no “fail” or “distinction”.

“We are not judging them by grades, neither are we trying to sugar-coat and give false impressions,” he adds.

“This is what we call an authentic assessment.”

“The ministry believes that if a candidate is rated “not competent” in a skill, but continues to be taught and guided, he can become competent in that skill.

“We also do not want to draw comparisons among candidates as this will cause competition and that is not what the PASR is about,” he points out.

A comprehensive report is also given at the end of the assessment.

The PASR provides a holistic and comprehensive overview of what a child has picked up in primary school, says Mohd Satar.
The PASR provides a holistic and comprehensive overview of what a child has picked up in primary school, says Mohd Satar.

Mohd Satar says that the candidates will receive a physical activity, sports and co-curricular assessment, and psychometric assessment reports as well.

Those who sit for the PASR must be from national, national-type and schools with special needs classes and integrated schools that are following the Primary School Standard Curriculum (KSSR) Special Education also known by its Malay acronym KSSRPK.

Only children who have completed the KSSRPK Level 2 can sit for the assessment.

Examinations Syndicate Alternative Assessment Development Sector assistant director Ku Azman Tuan Mat says candidates must also be in their final year of primary school, and since they have learning disabilities, they are allowed to take the exam between the ages of 12 and 14.

Assessment instruments

Mohd Satar says that the only thing “centralised” in the PASR is the assessment instrument and the scoring rubric used.

The PASR consists of two integrated assessment instruments carried out at the school level, better known as school-based assessments.

Pupils are given eight weeks to complete the instruments known as Special Project (ProKhas) 1 and four weeks to complete ProKhas 2.

ProKhas 1 consists of Bahasa Melayu, Mathematics and Life Skills carried out for eight weeks throughout July and August.

All the subjects are integrated and assessed concurrently through an activity.

Life Skills can be divided into four areas – farming (perkebunan), cooking (masakan), animal husbandry (penternakan) and sewing (jahitan).

For this year, the cooking assessment was based on making, marketing and selling popiah, and it was held in conjunction with Entrepreneur’s Day at the schools.

It is kept very flexible for these pupils as the teacher has a choice of assessing all four life skills or choosing only the best score.

“It all depends on the candidate’s capabilities,” he says, adding that the life skill taught to the child would also depend on the facilities available in the school.

He adds that it does not matter how much popiah they sell but rather, whether they can communicate effectively, measure the ingredients correctly, follow the recipe taught to them and count the change meant to be given to their customers.

“What we want to measure is how they fare - whether they can read, write, speak and count correctly, as well as the knowledge, skills and values demonstrated in the 20 constructs in a holistic and integrated assessment,” he adds.

“They need to talk to their customers, they need to design a poster with words to promote their product — these are ways we assess their Bahasa Melayu skills.”

“For PASR, we assess them based on the skills they learnt in class,” says Mohd Satar, adding that they cannot be tested based on the theories or cognitive-based questions that mainstream students experience.

ProKhas 2 was carried out for four weeks in September and blended the Social Science and Environment Education, and English Language subjects together.

“The assessment happens during the teaching and learning time in school,” he says.

The long time span, he says, also allows the PASR candidate an “opportunity” to increase their capabilities.

“We will take their higher competency (rating),” Mohd Satar adds.

He says this is crucial as what they aim to do through PASR is to give an accurate view of a pupil’s capabilities and what they have picked up in primary school.

“Realistically, in the real world there are those with special needs that will still need help even after they have finished schooling.”

Another benefit for the pupils when it is conducted during the teaching and learning periods is that teachers are able to help these special needs children, who may not be able to grasp concepts easily or have forgotten them.

“It keeps them motivated to go on and helps prevent the child from becoming frustrated although they might be given a “not competent” in their assessment,” he adds.

Just because it is school-based does not mean the Education Ministry is not keeping an eye on the PASR though.

“The ministry still conducts quality control through mentoring, monitoring, detecting hiccups and coordination efforts,” he says.

The assessment instruments, scoring guide, assessment rules and guidelines are given by the Examinations Syndicate.

“We have a specific scoring rubric that the teachers must use when assessing the pupils.” he points out, adding that they trust the teachers to score the candidates fairly.

Feedback from all those involved has been pretty much positive.

Although there were only six months to train the teachers, most of them have said that the training was comprehensive enough for them to understand how to conduct the assessment, adds Mohd Satar.

This is based on a survey conducted by the Examinations Syndicate.

“On the ground, the teachers and students have enjoyed the cooking assessment with mainstream students coming to the stalls set up and buying the popiah,” he says.

“The pupils have even asked the teachers if there are any more assessments like this once PASR was over.

“Pupils normally do not like tests and assessments but the PASR has them asking for more,” Mohd Satar happily adds.

He says this is because the children get to experience what is being taught in class, and this is exciting for them.

Mohd Satar says the PASR rankings can be used by the secondary school teacher and parents to determine how much help or independence should be given to the child when they enter Form One.

He reiterates that special needs education needs to be tailored to the individual child as each of them have varying degrees of learning disorders.

“They may need remedial lessons or enrichment if they are more advanced.”

As for plans for the future, Mohd Satar says: “We are now preparing for PASM which is for those who have completed their lower secondary education. It will be the secondary school equivalent of PASR.

“Nothing is confirmed yet but we have plans to have the PASM at the same time as PT3 (Form Three Assessment) which will also be a school-based assessment.”



The PASR objective is to assess pupils’ aptitude for numbers, their ability to interact with others and learn a skill.It also aims to measure the achievement and the development level of special needs pupils using an integrated assessment approach which encourages meaningful learning by using skills that can be applied in real life.

Prior to the PASR implementation, pupils with learning disabilities did not have any alternative to cater to their learning needs.

In fact, there has so far been no centralised assessment at all for special needs pupils.

While no single test or evaluation can capture a child’s full spectrum of strengths and challenges, an assessment like the PASR helps teachers gauge their pupils to some extent.

Examinations Syndicate Alternative Assessment Development Sector head Mohd Satar Ramli says the Education Ministry wanted a fair way to assess these pupils.

“We explored and studied the assessment instruments used in foreign countries and found that they had modified their mainstream syllabus to suit the pupils’ needs,” he adds.

Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid (second from left) presents Khoo Jenny (second from right), a special needs student from SK Bukit Rahman Putra, Sungai Buloh, with her PASR certificate. — File photo
Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid (second from left) presents Khoo Jenny (second from right), a special needs student from SK Bukit Rahman Putra, Sungai Buloh, with her PASR certificate. — File photo

“We didn’t want to modify the national syllabus for special needs pupils just for the sake of doing so,” he adds, saying that the ministry wants to make sure the assessment report has a purpose in helping and defining the pupil’s development to the next level.

He says the ministry is taking a “gentle approach’’ as the children are sensitive.

In 2016, 2,550 pupils from 738 schools took the PASR.

One of the ways the ministry is using a gentle approach for this assessment is to do away with grades.

Instead, candidates are given a competency level ranking.

“They are either “not competent”, “competent” and “more than competent”.

Under the PASR, there is no “fail” or “distinction”.

“We are not judging them by grades, neither are we trying to sugar-coat and give false impressions,” he adds.

“This is what we call an authentic assessment.”

“The ministry believes that if a candidate is rated “not competent” in a skill, but continues to be taught and guided, he can become competent in that skill.

“We also do not want to draw comparisons among candidates as this will cause competition and that is not what the PASR is about,” he points out.

A comprehensive report is also given at the end of the assessment.

The PASR provides a holistic and comprehensive overview of what a child has picked up in primary school, says Mohd Satar.
The PASR provides a holistic and comprehensive overview of what a child has picked up in primary school, says Mohd Satar.

Mohd Satar says that the candidates will receive a physical activity, sports and co-curricular assessment, and psychometric assessment reports as well.

Those who sit for the PASR must be from national, national-type and schools with special needs classes and integrated schools that are following the Primary School Standard Curriculum (KSSR) Special Education also known by its Malay acronym KSSRPK.

Only children who have completed the KSSRPK Level 2 can sit for the assessment.

Examinations Syndicate Alternative Assessment Development Sector assistant director Ku Azman Tuan Mat says candidates must also be in their final year of primary school, and since they have learning disabilities, they are allowed to take the exam between the ages of 12 and 14.

Assessment instruments

Mohd Satar says that the only thing “centralised” in the PASR is the assessment instrument and the scoring rubric used.

The PASR consists of two integrated assessment instruments carried out at the school level, better known as school-based assessments.

Pupils are given eight weeks to complete the instruments known as Special Project (ProKhas) 1 and four weeks to complete ProKhas 2.

ProKhas 1 consists of Bahasa Melayu, Mathematics and Life Skills carried out for eight weeks throughout July and August.

All the subjects are integrated and assessed concurrently through an activity.

Life Skills can be divided into four areas – farming (perkebunan), cooking (masakan), animal husbandry (penternakan) and sewing (jahitan).

For this year, the cooking assessment was based on making, marketing and selling popiah, and it was held in conjunction with Entrepreneur’s Day at the schools.

It is kept very flexible for these pupils as the teacher has a choice of assessing all four life skills or choosing only the best score.

“It all depends on the candidate’s capabilities,” he says, adding that the life skill taught to the child would also depend on the facilities available in the school.

He adds that it does not matter how much popiah they sell but rather, whether they can communicate effectively, measure the ingredients correctly, follow the recipe taught to them and count the change meant to be given to their customers.

“What we want to measure is how they fare - whether they can read, write, speak and count correctly, as well as the knowledge, skills and values demonstrated in the 20 constructs in a holistic and integrated assessment,” he adds.

“They need to talk to their customers, they need to design a poster with words to promote their product — these are ways we assess their Bahasa Melayu skills.”

“For PASR, we assess them based on the skills they learnt in class,” says Mohd Satar, adding that they cannot be tested based on the theories or cognitive-based questions that mainstream students experience.

ProKhas 2 was carried out for four weeks in September and blended the Social Science and Environment Education, and English Language subjects together.

“The assessment happens during the teaching and learning time in school,” he says.

The long time span, he says, also allows the PASR candidate an “opportunity” to increase their capabilities.

“We will take their higher competency (rating),” Mohd Satar adds.

He says this is crucial as what they aim to do through PASR is to give an accurate view of a pupil’s capabilities and what they have picked up in primary school.

“Realistically, in the real world there are those with special needs that will still need help even after they have finished schooling.”

Another benefit for the pupils when it is conducted during the teaching and learning periods is that teachers are able to help these special needs children, who may not be able to grasp concepts easily or have forgotten them.

“It keeps them motivated to go on and helps prevent the child from becoming frustrated although they might be given a “not competent” in their assessment,” he adds.

Just because it is school-based does not mean the Education Ministry is not keeping an eye on the PASR though.

“The ministry still conducts quality control through mentoring, monitoring, detecting hiccups and coordination efforts,” he says.

The assessment instruments, scoring guide, assessment rules and guidelines are given by the Examinations Syndicate.

“We have a specific scoring rubric that the teachers must use when assessing the pupils.” he points out, adding that they trust the teachers to score the candidates fairly.

Feedback from all those involved has been pretty much positive.

Although there were only six months to train the teachers, most of them have said that the training was comprehensive enough for them to understand how to conduct the assessment, adds Mohd Satar.

This is based on a survey conducted by the Examinations Syndicate.

“On the ground, the teachers and students have enjoyed the cooking assessment with mainstream students coming to the stalls set up and buying the popiah,” he says.

“The pupils have even asked the teachers if there are any more assessments like this once PASR was over.

“Pupils normally do not like tests and assessments but the PASR has them asking for more,” Mohd Satar happily adds.

He says this is because the children get to experience what is being taught in class, and this is exciting for them.

Mohd Satar says the PASR rankings can be used by the secondary school teacher and parents to determine how much help or independence should be given to the child when they enter Form One.

He reiterates that special needs education needs to be tailored to the individual child as each of them have varying degrees of learning disorders.

“They may need remedial lessons or enrichment if they are more advanced.”

As for plans for the future, Mohd Satar says: “We are now preparing for PASM which is for those who have completed their lower secondary education. It will be the secondary school equivalent of PASR.

“Nothing is confirmed yet but we have plans to have the PASM at the same time as PT3 (Form Three Assessment) which will also be a school-based assessment.”

Educators give their all

SCHOOL holidays are finally here and a time for a much-awaited break for teachers.

There are many outside the teaching profession who are envious of the month-long holiday that teachers get because they see it as a privilege.

But for teachers, the demands of the jobs are endless. Teachers put in long hours, contrary to what others may think. So the year-end holiday is a welcome break. Over the decades, the education policies have gone through tremendous changes. New ideas and innovative plans are constantly introduced and implemented.

E-learning has become the order of the day. We are fed with picture perfect scenarios where students equipped with laptops and high-tech gadgets are engaged in active self-learning activities.

Well, in reality the picture is not as pretty as it seems.

A teacher clocks in at 7am and spends the next 10 hours in a “battlefield-like environment”.

What a teacher endures in the next 10 hours or so, depends on pure luck which is determined by the students and the sometimes negative force of technology.

One of the numerous tasks of a teacher is to submit the students’ attendance online before 9am each day.

However the system often chooses to misbehave causing chaos. Try struggling with your gadget hoping to get the attendance keyed in, and you will be blamed by your students for abandoning them.

Teachers are even accused of exchanging WhatsApp messages (students have the wildest imagination) during class hours!

What if you put your students above all and ignore the inefficient system? Face action from your superiors for neglecting your duty.

The Frog Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), is a web-based learning system introduced in many national schools. It replicates real-world learning by integrating virtual equivalents of conventional concepts of education.

Teachers like me can assign lessons, tests, and marks virtually, while students can submit homework and view their marks through the VLE.

Parents can view school news and important documents while school administrators can organise their school calendars and disseminate school notices via the Internet.

Schools are monitored on the usage of Frog VLE. Hours spent by each school is recorded, ranked and reported monthly.

Teachers are responsible for the ranking and when you can’t ensure the position favoured by your superiors, there are bound to be attacks launched from all corners.

The problem is that the Internet is sometimes slower than a sloth, and that can set us back by 40 minutes –- the duration of an entire period.

We sometimes put up with ineffective gadgets and systems and are then expected to explain why we are not able to complete the syllabus on time.

That’s not all, we have to take responsibility for not having the desired number of written exercises given to students too. It’s quantity that counts, not the quality these days!

How about the Nilam ((Nadi Ilmu Amalan Membaca) programme which was introduced with the noble intention of cultivating and instilling the reading culture among students?

Though it was initiated with the idea of getting the students to read for “knowledge, enjoyment and leisure” it has ended up being the cause of anxiety for many teachers.

A teacher has to literally beg the students to read as once again, recording and presenting the numbers become the goal.

If students have reached the target number, give all the credit to the students.

Teachers are expected to create miracles and it doesn’t matter what a child’s intelligence level is. After all, making sure that students get a string of As is what a teacher’s job is all about!

Teachers are also expected to have a fine blend of Buddha and Gandhi, exhibiting the characteristics of Buddha and practising the teachings of Gandhi.

Smile when the students rebel, forgive when they err, persevere when they protest.

When your patience is put to test, utter no word. If you do, you might gain instant stardom in social media!

The ever increasing number of teachers opting for early retirement and teachers becoming victims of stress-related illnesses speaks volumes.

Excessive workload have forced many teachers to unfurl the white flag too soon.

It has also contributed towards cases of depression, divorce and even deaths among teachers.

Expectations from all corners are taking away so much time from teachers. Spending quality time with family and being involved in other activities are becoming things of the past.

Despite all this, teachers strive. An occasional appreciation and a “thank you” note which comes at unexpected moments are the fuel which keeps them going.

Having a dose of humour does help when they face these challenges. Teachers help nurture and guide young people to take the right path.

They also find contentment in witnessing their students’ successes, big or small.

To all teachers, have a great break!

Malaysia shows significant improvement under PISA 2015

Malaysian students show good improvement under PISA

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysian students have improved in Mathematics, Reading and Science under the Programme for Inter­national Student Assessment (Pisa) 2015.

According to results released by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Malaysia scored 446 in Mathematics, 431 in Reading and 443 in Science in Pisa 2015. This was a marked improvement over Pisa 2012 where Malaysia was below the global average score.


Marked improvement: Dr Khair Mohamad showing the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study report for 2015 during the press conference in Putrajaya.

Under Pisa 2012, Malaysia scored 421 in Mathematics, 398 in Reading and 420 in Science. In 2009, Malaysia scored 404 in Mathematics, 414 in Reading and 422 in Science.

Deputy education director-general Datuk Dr Amin Senin said the results achieved in Pisa 2015 survey showed that Malaysia was moving towards hitting the global average score of 490 in Mathematics and 493 in Reading and Science.

“We are on average, 50 marks from the global average in each domain. I am very pleased with the results and wish to congratulate all teachers, principals and students. Their commitment is commendable,” he told reporters following the release of the survey results at the ministry yesterday.

Pisa is administered by the OECD every three years on 15-year-olds in both OECD and non-OECD countries and offers students questions in the main language of instruction in their respective countries. Each round focuses on either Reading, Mathematics or Science.

For Pisa 2015, Dr Amin said 9,660 students from 230 schools were chosen at random to ensure a good representation. Malaysia was compared to 72 other countries.

Based on the survey results, he said more than 60% of the students who participated grasped the basic knowledge and skills of all three domains.

He attributed the improved results in Pisa 2015 to the implementation of the higher order thinking skills (HOTs).

Dr Amin said the ministry aimed to achieve above the global average and be in the top one-third of countries participating in Pisa and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) by 2025, in line with the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025.

PISA 2015: Malaysia shows significant improvement in Math, Science & reading

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia has shown significant improvement in the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) for three domains, namely Science, Mathematics and reading literacies.


Malaysia has shown significant improvement in the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) for three domains, namely Science, Mathematics and reading literacies. For the Science literacy domain, Malaysia scored 443 points, an increase of 23 points compared to the PISA 2012 results. (Bernama photo)
For the Science literacy domain, Malaysia scored 443 points, an increase of 23 points compared to the PISA 2012 results.

The score obtained for the reading literacy domain stands at 431 points, a rise of 33 points compared to the previous edition.

Malaysia scored 446 points in the Mathematics literacy domain this year compared to PISA 2012, with 421 points.

Education deputy director-general Datuk Dr Amin Senin said over 60 percent of students acquired basic skills or knowledge which can be applied in real world settings, based on the three domain results.

“For scientific literacy, 66.4 percent of students in Malaysia reached the baseline.

“A total of 62.8 percent of students reached the baseline for reading literacy, while 37.3 percent of students are below the baseline.”

“For the Mathematics literacy, 62.5 percent of students reached the baseline and 37.5 percent are below the baseline,” he told a press conference today.

Amin said the Higher Order Thinking Skills initiative is the key factor to boost Malaysia's achievement in Science, Math and reading literacies.

Amin also revealed that the students showed a high interest in the science field based on a survey done during PISA.

“More than 80 percent said they had fun learning about science, like to gain knowledge about science and were interested in learning science. "Almost 80 percent said they like to read about science and like to do assignments related to science.

"This is contrary to our assumptions that many Malaysian students are not interested in the science field."

However, based on the survey on the students' interest in science-related careers, 67 percent students chose careers that were unrelated to science.

"This is the first study which showed that Malaysian students have a high interest in science but are not interested in working in the science field. “We have yet to determine the cause of this mismatch. We will conduct a thorough study," he said.

Malaysia 'PISA 2015' rigged and cheated by ....

MP: Heads must roll over attempt to ‘cheat’ Pisa scores

Education Ministry officials who attempted to “cheat” the Programme for International Students Assessment (Pisa 2015) should be sacked, said Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua.

Pua said the official explanation by assessment organisers had strongly implied that Malaysia’s disqualification from the Pisa 2015 overall ranking had to do with the manipulation of assessment results.


Education Ministry officials attempted to ‘cheat’ in PISA, DAP MP claims

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 11 — DAP’s Tony Pua has accused the Education Ministry of trying to “cheat” in the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) by manipulating its results to misrepresent Malaysia’s performance.


Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua demanded that senior officials involved in the move to be sacked to send a strong message that the ministry is only interested in substantive quality of local students. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

The Petaling Jaya Utara MP demanded that senior officials involved in the move to be sacked to send a strong message that the ministry is only interested in substantive quality of local students.

“There cannot be a bigger irony when our own Ministry of Education tries to cheat in its examinations, and actually expects to get away with it,” Pua said in a statement.

“The disgraceful attempt to cheat the system underlies a bigger problem in the administration of our education system. It shows that those in-charge of the education of our children is more interested in form over substance.

“They are only interested in meeting statistical benchmarks — by hook or by crook so that they could crow about it, and are not interested in the real substantive quality and performance of our students,” he added.

In a separate statement, Serdang MP Dr Ong Kian Ming said it is “highly likely” that Malaysia was excluded from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) world school report after officials overseeing it realise that Malaysia is trying to rig its sample size.

Last week, the Education Ministry said that Malaysians students registered better scores in mathematics, science and reading according to the latest PISA results.

Its deputy director-general, Datuk Dr Amin Senin said that all three scores were close to the 493 average recorded by nations in the OECD, which runs the programme.

Amin said scientific literacy was the main benchmark for PISA 2015. In 2009, it was literacy while mathematics was the focus for 2012.

However, Malaysia was not included in the ranking since only 51 per cent of schools had participated, compared to 99.3 per cent and 100 per cent in 2009 and 2015.

“One suspects that the Ministry of Education over-sampled the high performing schools in the PISA 2015 sample and excluded some of the lower performing schools from the sample,” Ong said.

He pointed out that PISA data showed that 2,661 out of 8,861 students sampled, 30 per cent were from fully residential schools, whereas only less than 3 per cent of the 15-year-old cohort in 2015 were from the same type of school.

“Without a real transformation in the mindset of our officials in-charge of our education system, the quality of our schools will continue continue to deteriorate and we can only expect our students to be even worse off over time.

“As long as these officials who are only interested in artificial forms to pat themselves on the back and suck up to their superiors, no amount of beautifully crafted transformation blueprints will be able to ‘transform’ the system for the better,” Pua said.

Ong: Did ministry try to rig results for Pisa 2015 report?

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s results in the Program for International Student Assessment (Pisa) 2015 may have been rigged by the education ministry, says a DAP lawmaker.


DAP's Ong Kian Ming says highly likely that Pisa authorities recognised education ministry's attempt to rig sample size in order to artificially boost its scores.

Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming made the claim following the omission of Malaysia from the final ranking and assessment report released by the Pisa authorities on Tuesday.

He was referring to deputy education director-general Amin Senin’s remarks on the same day, pertaining to the improvement by Malaysian students based on the results achieved in the Pisa 2015 survey.

“No doubt, ministers, deputy ministers and politicians from the Barisan Nasional (BN) will use the latest Pisa scores as ‘proof’ that Malaysia is on the ‘right track’ when it comes to the standard of education in the country.

“What they would have conveniently left out is the fact that Malaysia does not feature anywhere in the 2015 Pisa rankings for Mathematics, Reading and Science,” Ong said.

On Tuesday, Amin announced that Malaysia’s Pisa scores for Mathematics, Reading and Science had improved from 421, 398 and 420, respectively, in 2012 to 446, 431 and 443, respectively, in 2015.

“The survey showed that Malaysia was moving towards hitting the global average score of 490 in mathematics and 493 in reading and science.

“We are on average, 50 marks from the global average in each domain. I am very pleased with the results and wish to congratulate all teachers, principals and students. Their commitment is commendable,” Amin was quoted as saying by The Star.

pisa

However, these statistics (seen in the graphic above) are not available anywhere in the official report released by the Pisa 2015 authorities in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and is purely based on the education ministry’s own submission to the OECD.

The official reason stated in the Pisa report for Malaysia’s exclusion is: “In Malaysia, the Pisa assessment was conducted in accordance with the operational standards and guidelines of the OECD. However, the weighted response rate among the initially sampled Malaysian schools (51%) falls well short of the standard PISA response rate of 85%.

“Therefore, the results may not be comparable to those of other countries or to results for Malaysia from previous years.”

Ong questioned the ministry on why only 51% of the schools initially chosen for the Pisa test in previous years, had participated in the test in 2015.

“Was it because the education ministry wanted to over-represent students from better performing schools and leave out students from low performing schools?

“This 51% participation rate raises many suspicions since Malaysia’s participation rate was 99.3% and 100% in PISA 2009 (151 out of 152 schools participated) and Pisa 2012 respectively,” Ong said.

He also doubted that school principals would have prevented their students from participating in the Pisa 2015 test, unless the ministry had decided not to choose the particular school again despite it being part of the original sample.

“I suspect the education ministry had over-sampled high performing schools in the Pisa 2015 sample and excluded some of the lower performing schools,” Ong said, implying it was to raise the scores in the 2015 report.

He gave the example of one state, Negeri Sembilan, where the 14 schools listed as the Pisa 2015 sample schools comprised secondary-level high performing schools (Sekolah Berprestasi Tinggi), and Fully Residential Schools (Sekolah Berasrama Penuh).

“The average student from these two types of schools will clearly outperform an average student from a regular secondary school.”

Ong added that the biased sample of schools in favour of high performing schools can also been seen in Pisa 2015’s own data on Malaysia.

“Out of a total sample of 8861 students, 2661 or 30% were from fully residential schools. This is clearly an over sampling of students from fully residential schools since they comprise less than 3% of the 15-year-old cohort in 2015,” he said, adding that it is highly likely that Pisa authorities recognise the education ministry’s attempt to rig the sample size in order to artificially boost its scores.

Ong called for the ministry to explain this distortion of the results and the exclusion of Malaysia from the Pisa 2015 report.

“Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid should explain so that we are not fooled into thinking that all is well and good in our education system as ‘evidenced’ by the latest Pisa scores.”