kheru2006 (kheru2006) wrote,

Get real about exam standards

 I REFER to the article “ When ‘A’ is average” by Mallika Vasugi (StarEducation, Feb 27). I cannot agree more with her on the state of things in our education system. She hit the nail on the head when she wrote that standards of assessment in the public examinations have been lowered.

Her comments have resonated with what has long been festering inside me as a fellow teacher. For one, I also face students who do not reflect the grades they had achieved in the PMR examinations.

Ask any English Language teacher and he or she, will regale you with tales of students who have managed to score an “A” for English, but who cannot write an error-free sentence.

Even more frightening is the fact that students who have made the passing grade in certain subjects, notably Mathematics and Science, have never obtained marks anywhere near even 20 percent in trial examinations. The same goes for the SPM examinations. So is there really anything for us to be jubilant about when the examination results are announced?

To “aid” the illusion of excellence, even the standard of questions in the public examinations have deteriorated over the past few years. One of my colleagues shook her head in disbelief when a perusal of the 2010 SPM Moral Education paper revealed that only mediocre questions were asked.

One wonders what the guidelines are, by which examination questions are set. On the optimistic side, this could be a sign that the subject is on its way out. To add insult to injury, questions are also unabashedly “leaked” through (horrors!) the examination system itself.

Anyone interested in verifying this can refer to last year’s SPM Chemistry Paper Three. Question Three of the paper, which is subjective, was already tested in at least six state trial exams!

It was not the exact question that appeared in each of the exams, but it still gave a very good hint at what was to come.

One can understand why that question was leaked out as it is the question that Chemistry students dread and would rather not prepare for.

This also leads me to ask why students have to memorise the details of about 30 experiments, which is what preparing for Question Three entails. Perhaps this is a way of getting around a no-win situation!

The “masterminds” at work behind the leak were not as successful with Question One as only three states managed to get hold of that question.

This is not the first time questions have been leaked out. Where is the accountability of those responsible? I am not saying that teachers are blame-free as there are many in the teaching fraternity who would give an arm and a leg to obtain confidential information too.

When standards are lowered and questions are “generously” leaked out, the ultimate losers would be the outstanding students — the ones who work hard and deserve their string of straight A’s and Public Services Department scholarships. We have to face facts that many of our young ones are only of mediocre level, but inappropriately labelled as competent.

How can we help them to truly excel, if we, in the education community, have blinkers on?

We could perhaps learn from Singapore on how to conduct public examinations and assess them.

Recently, a Singaporean student was hailed for being the only one to achieve straight A’s in one of their public exams. Do we really have anything to shout about?

NO GLORY  Via e-mail

Source: Education Home > Education Sunday March 6, 2011
Tags: assessment, pentaksiran, perguruan

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