Starting 2019, pupils in Primary 1 and 2 levels will not have any type of weighted exams and assessments. Pupils will still have their’ progress assessed using bite-sized activities like homework, worksheets, and class work assigned by the teachers.
The reasoning behind this move is to encourage students in Singapore to cultivate the love for lifelong learning. This change is aimed at reducing the emphasis placed on academic results.
This means that report cards will no longer be used to rank kids. But what do these changes mean for students in Singapore? Let’s look at some aspects of this changes.
Young children will benefit most from play
By freeing up the 2 years in primary level will mean that more time is left for kids to have experiential learning. This will offer more opportunities and space for pupils to find out their interests, strengths, and improve any areas they have weaknesses. For instance, with the additional 3 weeks of syllabus time every 2-years, children could take more Co-Curricular Activities (CCA) or do a school camp.
This change will lead to happier experiences for children. It is a known factthat young children benefit the most learning through play and it will offer them a more balanced childhood as children go through their studies and not have to get burdened with having to ace their exam. This can actually offer the environment that kids need to learn more and even develop their natural curiosity to studying.
Less stress & pressure on young children
Since students in primary 1 and 2 level will not be taking weighted exams, it will mean that the will have less stress and pressure, especially when it concerns their results and ranking. Though there will be report books, this time they will not be used certain indicators, like students positions, the class. The aim for this will be to discourage lots of comparisons between peers and parents.
The changes are to help prepare children to be able to handle the demands of a progressively complex world. So that they can fit in well, they will need to adopt a lifelong learning attitude. With such changes, children will also be better prepared to blend well in the ever-changing world today.
More attention to imparting the joy of learning
These adjustments are aimed at reducing the load of school-based assessment and perceived exam stakes. This new program aims to create more space and time in schools to support engaged learning, holistic development, and self-discovery. Such changes will offer students more opportunities for learning and student-centred approaches.
This will set the foundation for fostering skills and attitudes of life-long learning. Students will be able to develop stronger integral motivation as they go through their studies. This will help shift the focus of the student and parent as regards education and not just to pass exams.
However, our concerns are…
Might lead to not having strong fundamentals
When starting P3, children need to be able to write short compositions and passages, compose answers to open-ended questions in comprehensions and insert correct words in the cloze passages. If they do not have any kind of formal assessment starting from P1 to end P3, a level when SA2 are done, they may struggle in this area. The same goes for other subjects.
Then parents can only recognize that their kids are struggling after attending 3 years of schooling. This might cause stress and panic that will end up demoralizing the child. It is easy to note that your child needs constant reinforcement and time to ensure that a child gets a good educational foundation. A good primary school tutor can help.
Parents won’t know the child’s standing
To help discourage the “excessive centering” on grades, the report cards will get changed as well. The report books will not show specific indicators, such as the level of the student’s positions and the class. With this in mind, some parents are considering to hire an external tutor and use past year papers so that they can gauge their children’s standing and progress.
Parents are concerned about keeping track of their children learning progress. Previously, the assessment exams could show those areas that a child has challenges in. But now without exams, it is hard to tell what your child needs help in.
How the changes will affect your child
Students who are not yet used to exam-taking and might get shocked when they start P3. Since the exams and syllabus are not any easier, it can be challenging for students at this level to jump straight into the rigorous exams, instead of having time to graduating adapting the exam format from P1.
Parents will have a role to play to ease your child into P3 by doing regular mock exams at home and during the P2 year-end holiday so that your child is used to taking exams and not have undue stress when the real thing comes.
Embracing Change Together
Parents, schools, and educators have a key part to play by preparing children in Singapore for their future. It is essential that students get to enjoy their educational experience in addition to skill, values, and knowledge imparted in the classroom. Children will have some space and time to find out their strengths as well as turn out to be lifelong learners.
MOE intends to engage students, parents, and schools to assist them in understanding and appreciating these changes. Also, teachers and schools will continue getting the support they need in orienting themselves with these changes. This will, in turn, enable them to offer the same support to parents and students affected.
The change is very much welcomed by Singapore parents. However, it takes time to see if all the parents will embrace the message behind the change and allow young children to learn mostly through creative play rather than to burden them with a heavy homework load.
As much as the intention is clear from MOE, to instil the joy of learning in students, it may backfire if the parents engage more tuition classes or tutors just to have their children keep up in P3.