BASED on letters to the editor, anecdotal accounts, face-to-face chats and online discussions, the newly introduced School-based Assessment, better known by its Malay acronym PBS (Pentaksiran Berasaskan Sekolah), seems to be generating much apprehension, anxiety and uncertainty among students, teachers, parents and other stakeholders.
While all agree that the new approach promises to help alleviate end-of-year examination fears and give a more comprehensive and progressive report on students' mastery of the different subjects, the way the system is being implemented leaves room for improvement.
Below are some problems that need rectification or clarification from the Education Ministry:
TEACHERS key in students' performance data every now and then into the system. There are times when the system is closed, after which, teachers cannot key in anymore data. Now, if a student is away representing his/her school in co-curricular activities and cannot submit his/her work on a certain date, his/her grades may not be able to be keyed in.
THE computer system will compute the year-end results of each student based on the data entered progressively throughout the year. The teachers who key this in do not know how the year-end results are computed. This leads to much speculation and uncertainty, more so for students in Form Three this year who are concerned about their performance in relation to the selection criteria for Arts/Science streams when they go into Form Four next year. That the Education Ministry has yet to define or announce the criteria does not help relieve anxiety.
A COMMON complaint is that schools differ in the way they grade their students. The ministry has set standards and schools are supposed to follow it, but how do you eliminate human biases and prejudices, given the sheer magnitude of supervision and checking required to ensure fair play?
MORE disturbing are the differences within the same school. There are class to class and teacher to teacher variations. Students and parents are hesitant to complain or bring this up. But isn't it odd that sometimes, all in a class get Band 6 for a certain subject while in another class, not a single one can get Band 6?
Thus, banding can be very subjective. A lot depends on the teacher. Worst would be if a teacher decides not to "like" a particular class. Then it's just a blanket low band for all in the class. This can be disappointing and demotivating when students are not acknowledged based on meritocracy.
Liong Kam Chong, Seremban, Negri Sembilan email@example.com New Straits Times Letters to the Editor 23 January 2013