IT is rare for teachers to voice out their work concerns in public. Even the occasional letters to the press are published under pseudonyms, as the teachers are fully aware of the consequences if they break the rules.
But their disenchantment over the school-based assessment (PBS) system reached a tipping point when some of them showed up at a public rally recently to protest against the PBS.
The issue has been brewing for some time, with stories about teachers having to burn the midnight oil just to key in data into an online system that was difficult to access.
The PBS was introduced at the Year One level in 2011 and at Form One in 2012. The planners probably did not anticipate the cumulative effect of the workload on teachers and data volume on the online system as more students come under the PBS.
Which is why there was such a palpable sense of relief that greeted the announcement by Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin last week that changes made to the PBS will see a reduction in workload for the teachers by up to 80%.
National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) president Hashim Adnan said teachers throughout the country would be happy to hear that they no longer have to wake up in the early hours of the morning such as at “2am, 3am or 4am” just to key in data.
But technical issues aside, we must not lose sight of the purpose of introducing the PBS in the first place.
The primary role of teachers is to teach. And the self-assessment system is meant to complement this endeavour as it allows students to be assessed continuously rather than through set periodic examinations.
Teachers, therefore, must be sensitive to the performance of their students throughout the year and pay attention to the weaker students to keep them up to speed.
The intent is to create independent students with critical and analytical abilities, who are able to understand properly the subject matter of their studies rather than merely memorising and regurgitating them in examinations.
Which is why the accuracy of the data is crucial as the quality of the students will now be judged at the school level itself.
And the real test will be for this year’s Form Three student, who will no longer take the centralised examination, Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR), but the Pentaksiran Tingkatan 3 (PT3 or Form 3 Assessment).
Their entry into Form Four next year – including to fully residential schools, religious secondary schools, Mara Junior Science College, technical secondary schools and vocational colleges – hinges on how accurately they have been assessed.
The PBS is still a work in progress but all parties should work together to ensure that this system will truly help gauge our students fairly in all aspects.
Not only do teachers need time to interact with their students, they also need to be “personal” in assessing each and everyone of them. There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to bring out the full potential of the students.
The students must likewise be inspired to reach for the stars, rather than be complacent and lazy because they no longer have to “study” for an exam.
When all these come together, only then can we say that self-assessment really works.
The STAR Home Opinion The Star says March 23, 2014