How To Manage The Massive 'No-Exams' Changes In Primary 1 & 2
Young Parents Singapore|January 2019
How To Manage The Massive 'No-Exams' Changes In Primary 1 & 2

It's the biggest change to the Singapore school system in decades, and it sounds great – except, how do you tell if your child is learning, and at the right pace? Eveline Gan finds out how you can be sure your child is up to speed in learning.

Eveline Gan

In a bid to rein in overemphasis on grades, the Ministry of Education (MOE) unveiled a slew of changes to the primary school exam system last year, among them removing exams and weighted assessments in Primary 1 and 2, as well as omitting certain academic indicators in report books (See Primary School Exam Changes at a Glance for the full list of changes).

When this kiasu mum here first heard the news, I wondered if the changes would make it harder to track my kid’s progress in school when she enters Primary 1 next year. And what if she becomes complacent about her studies?

However, educators say that less emphasis on marks and scores is a step in the right direction in helping kids become better learners.

At the triennial Singapore International TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) Conference last year, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung urged Singaporeans to focus on “the true spirit of learning”.

“Examinations have become such a comfortable security blanket that a large part of the education experience revolves around examinations,” he shared.

“As a system and society, we have been over-reliant on this security blanket. Before it smothers us, we need to start to withdraw it somewhat and focus on the true spirit of learning.”

Still, if you have children in the lower primary levels like myself, you may wonder: how to take stock of Junior’s academic progress and ensure he’s on the right track in school?

Here, we get the experts to share what’s truly important for your child’s learning, and tips on how to do it without relying on exams and grades.

Look at the big picture

Although single-point assessments, like semestral exams, are given less emphasis now, schools have adopted more holistic assessment practices to support learning, says former primary school teacher Belize Chan, an educational supply designer at Eh, Cher! Supply Co.

Holistic assessment may include mini tropical tests, performance tasks, project work and oral presentations.

“These assessments aim to provide rich information on your child’s learning progress,” Belize says.

“They also emphasise qualitative feedback, in the form of teacher’s comments on strength’s weakness and areas of improvement, over quantitative feedback (in the form of grades and marks), which would help parents support and track your child’s learning better,” she adds.

TIP

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January 2019