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Singapore Will Abolish School Exam Rankings For One Good Reason

Learning is not a competition.

In an initiative that aims to encourage further learning among young students, the government of Singapore has officially announced its plans to abolish the age-old student ranking system for primary and secondary school. With this move, students’ class positions will no longer be reflected in their school report books beginning next year.

In a statement, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung summed it up this way: “The change is to allow each student to focus on his or her learning progress and discourage them from being overly concerned about comparisons.”

“Learning is not a competition,” according to the education ministry.

In a Tribune feature, we learn that the following details will no longer be included in student reports:

  1. Class and level mean
  2. Minimum and maximum marks
  3. Underlining and/or coloring of failing marks
  4. Pass/fail for end-of-year result
  5. Mean subject grades
  6. Overall total marks
  7. L1R5 (English plus five relevant subjects), L1R4 , EMB3 (English, maths, best three subjects) and EMB1 for lower secondary levels
Moreover, examinations for primary 1 and 2 pupils will also be discontinued beginning next year.

Source: CNR

The statement further tells us:

“Teachers will continue to gather information about pupils’ learning through discussions, homework and quizzes. Schools will use other ways like qualitative descriptor in place of marks and grades to evaluate pupils’ progress at these two levels. Whereas marks of older students will be rounded off before being presented.”

Teachers will coordinate with the parents to inform them about their children’s progress.

Source: StraitsTimes

Ong said:

“I know that ‘coming in first or second’, in class or level, has traditionally been a proud recognition of a student’s achievement. But removing these indicators is for a good reason, so that the child understands from young that learning is not a competition, but a self-discipline they need to master for life.

“Notwithstanding, the report book should still contain some form of yardstick and information to allow students to judge their relative performance, and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.”

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