Archive for the ‘Assessment and Evaluation’ Category

Testing students’ sporting abilities

Sunday, February 10th, 2019
Muhammad Luqman Danish (right) getting ready to throw a discus while the other boys rest behind the discus cage in the SPI field.

Muhammad Luqman Danish (right) getting ready to throw a discus while the other boys rest behind the discus cage in the SPI field.

MUHAMMAD Luqman Danish Azman Omar enjoyed the challenge of the Standard Taking held at SMK St Paul (SPI) in Seremban from Jan 23 ro 25.

The boy who is in Form One Henry, had to compete in the 100m sprint, 400m, shot putt, discus throw and long jump.

The boys in the afternoon session competed in all the events so as to score points for their respective sports houses named after the SPI’s La Salle Brother Directors (former principals).

The programme also promotes better understanding between the seniors and juniors in SPI as they compete side by side in the same Under-14 category.

Muhammad Luqman Danish who represented Director House said: “ The discus throw is a new event, which I didn’t learn during my time at the SPI Primary School.

“My Physical Education and class teacher Mr S Rajasingam taught us how to throw it two weeks ago and I managed to do well.

“I made many new friends from other classes during the Standard Taking,” added Muhammad Luqman. Rajasingam who is also the school’s athletics coach said: “In a boys’ school like SPI, there is a wealth of sports talents.”

“The boys are full of energy and excited every time they step into the field.

“The Standard Taking events tested the boys both physically and mentally as well as identified the boys who will excel in athletics.

By Fong Ai Lian
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Maszlee: Abolishing exams for Years One to Three next year aims to restore true spirit of PBS.

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018
Education Minister, Dr Maszlee Malik. Pic by NSTP/MOHD FADLI HAMZAH

PUTRAJAYA: The decision to abolish examinations for pupils in Years One, Two and Three from next year is aimed at restoring the spirit and principles of the School-Based Assessment system (PBS).

Education Minister, Dr Maszlee Malik, said the original aim of the PBS, which was implemented since 2011, was to evaluate pupils, but not through achievement in examinations.

“Many people were surprised when it was announced that Year One, Two and Three pupils will not be sitting for examinations. PBS was implemented in 2011 but unfortunately, it didn’t achieve its goals.

“The spirit of PBS is gone. Today, teachers are still leaning towards exams as a yardstick for student performance,” he said in a special interview with NSTP at his office here today.

He was commenting on his post in Twitter today about the abolishment of examinations for Year One, Two and Three pupils. He said examinations would be replaced with a more objective assessment from next year.

Elaborating further, Maszlee said that with the abolition of examinations, the ministry hoped that teachers would focus more on identifying potential students through cheerful and fun learning

By Manirajan Ramasamy and Mohd Anwar Patho Rohman.

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Nurturing true grit in children

Sunday, October 21st, 2018
Kumon instructor Nor Aishah said children who face challenges daily will discover solutions themselves and end up feeling better for their achievement.

Kumon instructor Nor Aishah said children who face challenges daily will discover solutions themselves and end up feeling better for their achievement.

WHEN it comes to assessing a child’s success in school, many recent experiments and tests conducted by child psychologists suggested that rather than brain power, the solution lies in the child’s character.

These results reveal that non-cognitive skills like persistence, self-control, curiosity, conscientiousness, self-confidence and grit are the reason for the child’s success at school and in life later on.

Grit itself refers to the passion and perseverance for long-term goals despite setbacks.

Kumon instructor Nor Aishah Osman said that when it comes to grit, a student cannot become an advanced learner without strengthening his learning skills.

At Kumon, experience is crucial to moulding a child’s character and it usually starts off simple enough by solving easy solutions, before progressing to problems at the student’s right level, which implies the process being individualised.

Once the student surpasses his own level, there is no stopping, as he can continue to challenge himself in higher levels than his own in school.

Kumon worksheets are planned in such a way that they are a step-by-step guide, with new twists and elements added so students are exposed to different components of the solutions to a complicated problem.

Nor Aishah said that this form of self-learning requires patience. “Some children get frustrated when trying to solve the problems,” she added.

But when they persist and face these challenges daily, they will eventually discover the solution themselves and end up feeling better for their achievement. “This gives them motivation, self-confidence,” explained Nor Aishah.

Working with parents, Kumon instructors help shape the attitudes and confidence early so that student are self-reliant by the time they enter college.

R&D development manager Rupeshsingh is happy with his daughter Dhaani’s progress at Kumon.

When Rupeshsingh K. Bess enrolled his five-year-old daughter Dhaani in Kumon, his expectations were that she should inculcate good learning habits and develop better concentration — both traits that after just 18 months have become intrinsic to her.

Daani has already developed endurance, and she relishes spending 15-30 minutes each day dedicated to working on her mathematics and English worksheets.

“She is committed and she looks forward to working on even more homework,” said Rupeshsingh, research and development manager.

“She has developed the tenacity to want to achieve more,” he concluded.

Final level Kumon student Aleem (left) with his father Amirullah Harun, is a straight-A student at school.

For straight-A student 15-year-old Aleem, being at Kumon made a big difference when he progressed towards secondary school. His father, quantity surveyor Amirullah Harun, enrolled him at the age of five-plus.

“By then, there was already a big gap between me and my classmates, for when I was in Form 1, I was already working on trigonometry while my classmates were still figuring out algebra.

“My mindset about fear has already been changed thanks to Kumon,” Aleem added.

Kumon’s main objective is for primary school children to be able to tackle secondary school materials by strengthening their foundation before proceeding to higher level work.

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Are report cards a good yardstick?

Sunday, March 4th, 2018
By ARTURO RAMO - March 4, 2018 @ 9:48am

MANY families take advantage of school report cards to talk to their children about school.

Though the report card is important, it should not be the sole standard to evaluate a child’s academic performance since every child is different. And, so are his or her circumstances.

A child’s academic performance is satisfactory when it conforms to his intellectual capacity and effort put in. Performance is sufficient when a student’s grade is “passed” or “progresses adequately”.

Two paradoxical situations may occur:

FIRST,  the student passes with a sufficient grade point average, but his performance is unsatisfactory.

This is because the student could have obtained a better grade by improving his learning capacity according to what was expected of him.

This is the case of gifted students who, with little effort, can manage a passing grade. It also depends, however, on how demanding the teacher is.

SECOND,  the student makes a great effort and dedicates many hours to studying, but does not achieve a good grade. This depends on a few factors: the student’s method of study, his knowledge of the subject and whether the teacher is too demanding.

Nevertheless, parents should not place too much of value on the grades their children obtain in school because they could be making three mistakes:

FIRST, parents demand less from their child than what he is capable of achieving, thus fomenting mediocrity. This may lead him to fail in the future though he is making do with a pass.

SECOND, parents demand more from the child than he is capable of achieving.

Expecting a high performance from an average student who tries hard to progress could create a state of anguish and anxiety in him, thus resulting in him refusing to study.

THIRD, parents and teachers impose the same expectations on students when, in reality, each child has different intellectual capacity.

Comparisons between siblings or classmates produce negative consequences and can lead to jealousy or envy.


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Assessments vital for student learning

Sunday, January 14th, 2018

ASSESSMENT is perhaps the most vital of all the processes in academic and vocational education.

People who understand assessment will always stress on providing a quality assessment system with emphasis on the different aspects of subject matter, appropriate feedback given, ensure learning is sufficient to the right students, and honouring a qualification that is well received.

When the right procedures and proper systematic tasks are in place, students can be assured of the quality of their training and studies, and employers can have confidence in qualified students.

Without them, however, any of these can be placed in jeopardy.

There is also an increasing amount of research and development being carried out in assessment and this has introduced new challenges and given rise to the traditional approaches to assessment that fail to address.

The importance of assessment issues in academic and vocational education is often not appreciated.

There is of course probably more bad practice and ignorance of significant issues in the area of assessment than in any other aspect of education.

The effects of bad practice are far more potent here than for any aspect of teaching.

Students can escape from the impact of poor teaching; they cannot (if they want to succeed in a course) escape the results of poor assessment.

Assessment acts as an instrument to control learners that has more effect on learners than most teachers or administrators are prepared to acknowledge.

Eckstein and Noah (1993) helped summarise the level of concern and debate about assessment by mentioning that:

“If examinations provoke debate and conflict, it is because they are not merely technical devices to evaluate students.

The policies and practices they embody carry ideological and political freight. Educational, ideological and political issues become intertwined, especially over questions of control, who shall control the examinations, and what shall the examinations control?

“Neither of these questions finds permanent solutions in any country. Instead, current examination policies and arrangements are best regarded as the outcome of a series of compromises among competing values, interests, and points of view, or . . . as a set of trade-offs between competing values.”

Assessment is thus important in its own right and it cannot be separated from the social context, and it also aids or inhibits the attempts of educators to improve teaching and learning.

Assessment as in the past, whether it is classroom, school-based or centralised examinations, have always been for comparing individuals with each other or to discriminate ‘the know’ and the ‘don’t know’.

In education, assessment needs to be thought of not as a comparison between individuals, but as “the process of collecting evidence and making judgments on the extent and nature of progress towards the performance requirements set out in a standard, or a learning outcome” (Hagar, Athanasou and Gonczi 1994).

Though many would deny the fact they are actually ‘differentiating learners’ it may be due to that:

* Most assessments are said to emphasise on memory and lower-level skills;

* Most assessments encourage students to focus on those topics which are assessed at the expense of those which are not;

* Students will put more effort and concentrate on graded tasks over those which are ungraded;

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Students’ future begins with PT3

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017

PENTAKSIRAN Tingkatan Tiga (PT3) results were announced on Dec 14. PT3 is a school-based holistic assessment of students on a continuous basis. Schools and teachers are solely responsible for the administration of the examination, marking of exam scripts and release of results on a date fixed by the Education Ministry.

As a teacher, I have come to know that parents are much more enthusiastic and nervous about PT3 results than their children. I have observed various reactions during results announcements. For example, some parents start praying the moment teachers distribute the exam slips. Some parents cry when they learn that their children were not in the best students category. The disappointment is clear.

I do not blame them. As parents, they have most probably tried their best to provide the best guidance to their children to obtain good PT3 results.

As an educator, all I will say is that regardless of what your children scored in PT3, as a parent, do not give up or be disappointed with your children. Please continue to provide the best guidance you can and be motivators to your children. Always remember parents should be their children’s best friend.

PT3 is not the end of your children’s life. It is the beginning. It is just a public examination to determine which stream your children should be in during their upper secondary school.

Do not repeat the common mistakes many parents make. Discard the thought that your child will have a bright future if he or she is in the science stream. Do not pressure your children to be in the science stream if he or she is not inclined to core science subjects. Being unable to perform well in core science subjects such as biology, chemistry and physics, in Form Four and Form Five, will drive them to depression.

Always bear in mind that there are many students from the arts stream who are successful and have a bright future.

Last, but not least, a single written public examination that assessed holistically will never be able to determine your children’s future. I would like to congratulate all PT3 2017 candidates. You are all excellent.


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Revamping exam-oriented system

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017
(File pix) Students congratulating each other after receiving the results of their Pentaksiran Tingkatan Tiga (PT3) last week. The exam results for both Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah and PT3 now encourage parents and students to celebrate achievements outside, as well as within the academic realm. Pix by Danial Saad

THE country’s examination system is undergoing a radical transformation as we witnessed the recent announcements of Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) results followed by Pentaksiran Tingkatan Tiga (PT3) results last week

For many years, exam results has become an event in its own right in this country. With social media frenzy and the news taking the space on the front page of most newspapers, everything has become public. There is no such thing as private grief for those who did not score

How can we forget the devastation caused by the poor UPSR nationwide results last year? It was as if national disaster had struck the country when newspapers front-paged pictures of students crying because they did badly in the exams.

The change now is timely although for some it will take time getting used to. We have been too fixated on scores and preparing for the exams that teachers spend too much time preparing material that will appear during the exams. We need to change this “mindset” of what is expected from exam results.

This year, everyone was more prepared for the results. Year Six pupils and their parents received an earlier warning to brace themselves for something different when they picked up their UPSR results.

What are the changes? First, the Primary School Assessment Report (PSSR) as it is termed, consists three other components along with the academic component. The other components were sports, physical and curriculum activities assessment; classroom assessment and psychometric assessment. Each student received four reports in total that evaluate their total development including physical, emotional and spiritual aspects.

This also leads to a change in getting a place in a boarding school (SBP) which in the past, only considered those with straight As. Starting this year, application for SBP is open to all and the candidates will be chosen based on the entrance exam that they have to sit. Aspects like general knowledge, emotional intelligence, intellect, spirituality aspects and social skills will determine their placement.

Finally, there are no mention of best schools, or states with the most straight A scorers on the announcement day. There are also no statistics to compare rural and urban schools or school-to-school. Data comparison shared this year were on the minimum standard achievement for this year’s batch and number of straight As students at the national level.

The first step in reforming our exam-oriented education system began in 2014 when the Education Ministry replaced the Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) with PT3. It has the same scope as PMR except it is not a centralised system. Schools prepare their own examination questions. The Malaysian Examination Board and state education department are the moderator to ensure validity and reliability scores of the candidates.

The exam results for both UPSR and PT3 now encourage parents and students to celebrate achievements outside as well as within the academic realm. At the same time, the results are to provide information on students’ progress and proficiency to parents and teachers as feedback to improve teaching and learning.

However, parents are still unsure with the other information included in the results. They are still holding tight to the number of As from the examination.

PT3’s psychometric assessment for instance, also included the Holland Occupational Themes (RIASEC) –a theory of careers and vocational choice based upon personality types. Many parents are not aware that this assesses their child’s vocational interest and inclination.

The six Holland codes based on six personality types. They are realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising and conventional.

For example, conventional personality types are those who are methodical, logical, efficient and detail-oriented. They are usually accountants, budget analysts or administrative assistants.

If your child is a realistic individual, he values concrete information and rarely enjoys working with abstract concept. Realistic types take on roles that involve repairing or assembling things.

For lower secondary school students this would also be the first step for them to decide their future pathways. This can start with choosing the right subject stream for their higher secondary studies.

Like many issues in public education, standardised testing can be a controversial topic. Many people say exam results provide an accurate measurement of a student’s performance and teacher’s effectiveness. Others say this one-size-fits-all approach to assessing academic achievement is inflexible or even biased.

What’s still missing with these exam changes however, is the accountability of teachers and schools responsible for teaching students on the established standards

It is still unclear how the exam scores can help identify teachers and schools that do not perform up to par and how to make sure that they do. Would, for example, the changes help improve our students’ performance in TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) and PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment)?


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New entry ‘test’ for residential schools

Monday, December 18th, 2017
The fully residential school entrance exam, comprising five constructs, will test applicants’ intellect and adaptability. (PIC BY YAHYA ZAINUDDIN)

KUALA LUMPUR: AS the education system evolves into a less exam-oriented one, fully residential schools (SBP) will do the same by introducing a new entrance exam that will see students selected based on individual aptitude, aside from academic strength.

The SBP entrance exam held this month will determine if applicants fulfil the criteria for entry into the 69 SBPs nationwide.

The exam, comprising five constructs, will test applicants’ intellect and adaptability.

The Education Ministry’s Fully Residential and Excellent Schools Management Division deputy director Aidie Jantan told the New Sunday Times that preparations for the exam had been set in motion since the middle of the year, and the announcement of the Primary School Assessment Report (PSAR) made it all the more fitting.

The implementation of PSAR was announced by the ministry on Nov 22 with components like academics, sports and co-curriculum, psychometric and classroom assessment being corresponding methods of assessment for primary school pupils.

Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) was one of the components assessed.

The same system would be adopted for SBP entrance, said Aidie, as other factors would be considered prior to enrolment.

This, he said, gave students more opportunities to excel in a multitude of areas, not just academics.

“The entrance exam is parallel to the paradigm shift the ministry is bringing to our education system. If we remain too exam-oriented, the application of soft skills would not take place.”

Of the entrance exam’s five constructs, two focuse on intellectual capability and general knowledge, and three will gauge a pupil’s suitability for boarding schools.

The other constructs measure emotional quotient, soft skills and spiritual quotient.

“The three constructs will see if a student is independent, if he can live in a boarding school community, how he reacts to shared space, how he interacts with those around him and others. The exam is in line with the Malaysia Education Blueprint (2013-2025), which aims to produce students who are knowledgeable, ethical, spiritual and have leadership skills.”

SBPs are looking to mould students who have global competitiveness and strengths that go beyond books.

This, Aidie said, was the notion behind the implementation of PSAR.

“SBP enrolment requirements give us the chance to assess students based on different components. This means we do not only get academically-inclined students, but also those who have leadership skills, are active and have more to them than just brains.”

The entrance exam, comprising 50 multiple-choice questions, will be held from tomorrow to Friday at 155 examination centres.

A total of 58,130 applicants this year will vie for 9,555 places with results to be announced in the SBP portal on Dec 29.

To keep the exam individualised, it is likely that candidates will not be given the exact same set of questions.


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Moving away from exam-oriented mentality

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017
Pupils taking the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah in Kuantan. Psychometric assessments are useful in helping students determine the most suitable academic courses by matching their personality profile with their ideal field of study and career. FILE PIC

THE Education Ministry’s decision to not compare states and schools when announcing the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) results on Nov 23 is laudable. There was no mentions of which states or schools had the most straight As, and the list of top scorers was also not an item at the press conference. Instead, Education director-general Datuk Dr Amin Senin focused on the Primary School Assessment Report (PSSR).

PSSR is a holistic evaluation method that incorporates other competencies besides pupils’ performance in UPSR. Pupils were also evaluated on their involvement in sports and physical and co-curricular activities. All these, including classroom evaluation and psychometric reports, provide us with a better assessment of pupils.

For example, pupils were evaluated on their fitness through the body mass index (BMI) and participation in sports, while classroom evaluation comprised assessment on learning and about learning.

The psychometric evaluation looks at pupils’ psychological traits, natural abilities in music, linguistic skills and mathematical logic. It is understandable that the ministry is giving this more emphasis as it provides a clearer picture of the pupils’ overall potential. It is the way forward, as it complements the Pentaksiran Tingkatan 3 (PT3), which also has school assessments and psychometric reports.

Educators have for a long time been interested in psychometric assessments for pupils. Educators, along with decision makers in related agencies, used the input to find ways to make studying and learning more meaningful for students. As a result, education, especially at the higher level, has become broad based, with universities and colleges offering a wide range of courses to not only meet the needs of industries or ensure their survival, but to also provide options based on students’ interests and strengths.

As it measures students’ aptitude, the psychometric assessment is useful in helping students determine the most suitable academic courses by matching their personality profile, including their preferred lifestyle, with their ideal field of study and career.

Students can make better sense of this situation with the help of counsellors or private education consultants to plan academic progression that may help them get ideal jobs.

Interest in psychometric evaluation is also widespread at the workplace. In job interviews, employers conduct similar assessments to evaluate candidates’ competency and personality to see how they will fit in the organisation. The assessment can be tailor-made to provide specific and targeted goals.

In the academic field, the outcomes of psychometric tests have also been used to optimise students’ potential.

A good example at the secondary level is Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET). TVET includes formal, non-formal and informal learning that prepare young people with knowledge and specific skills.

To underscore that TVET is a priority, the government proposed an allocation of RM4.9 billion for next year to implement the TVET Malaysia Master Plan, including providing 100 TVET Excellent Students Scholarships worth RM4.5 million.


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Education D-G: Year Six pupils not judged solely on UPSR.

Thursday, November 23rd, 2017
PUTRAJAYA: Year Six pupils are no longer judged formally based on the number of As they score in their Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) examination.
Starting this year, Education director-general Datuk Dr Amin Senin (pic) said they will also receive formal reports for sports, physical and curriculum activities assessment; classroom assessment and psychometric assessment.
All these components are part of the Primary School Assessment Report (PPSR) or Pelaporan Pentaksiran Sekolah Rendah, he said when announcing the PPSR report analysis on Thursday (Nov 23).
At the national level, sports, physical and curriculum activities assessment, UPSR and psychometric assessment give a general picture of the state of the primary school education system, he said.
“Overall, the results are good but there is still room for improvement,” said Dr Amin.
“Primary school pupils are assessed more meaningfully and holistically, and no longer just focused on their UPSR results.
A large portion of pupils showed good and excellent achievements in co-curricular activities with UPSR scores also improving this year.

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