Archive for the ‘Assessment and Evaluation’ Category

Ensure students treated fairly

Sunday, April 26th, 2020

PARENTS are worried that the cancellation of the Semester 2 of the Matriculation Programme Examinations (PSPM) will affect STPM students’ chances of pursuing courses like medicine, engineering, accounting and other Science-based programmes.

The cancellation will affect the chances of Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) students looking to get into these critical study programmes, said Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education chairman Mak Chee Kin, as there will be two sets of students competing for a place in the application of public university’s 2020/2021 intake.

“The 2019 STPM students must take three centralised examinations to pursue studies in public universities. The same batch of matriculation students have to sit for two.

“They’ve already sat for one exam but the other is being cancelled and replaced with only assessments and internal markings.

“This means that the PSPM students would only have sat for one centralised exam compared to the three STPM students would have to sit for,” he said.

Pointing out that the two different qualifying systems have resulted in an uneven playing field, he said the percentage of matriculation students given good courses and good universities has always been higher compared to STPM students.

Mak was commenting on the Education Ministry’s decision to cancel Semester 2 of the PSPM in light of the extended management control order (MCO).

The ministry said it decided to cancel the exam for the 2019/2020 session scheduled from April 27 to May 4 to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Aware that the results of PSPM would be used to apply for the 2020/2021 session intake in public universities, the ministry said results for Semester 2 examinations will be replaced by continuous assessments that have been carried out throughout the semester.

“This means that students’ final results will be calculated based on the combination of results from Semester 1 and assessments from Semester 2,” the ministry said in a recent statement. It added that the matriculation programme for session 2019/2020 ended on April 11.

Mak questioned if the matriculation students who were supposed to sit for the exam would be evaluated fairly in their assessments.

“Can it be guaranteed that the assessment of matriculation students will be done fairly?

“This is important as the students would not be sitting for the second exam.

“We must be just to the STPM students. Some of them even re-took papers to get better grades,” he said, adding that matriculation students also tend to get higher co-curricular marks – an important factor when applying to universities – compared to STPM students.

This, he said, is because matriculation students are marked at national level, whereas STPM students go through a district, state and national level marking system.

Hoping that some leeway could be given to STPM students, he said the ministry should allocate more seats for STPM holders with grades CGPA 3.9 and above.

“The universities should have qualifying tests for students to ensure that only those who are really qualified are eligible to secure a spot, irrespective of whether they came from the matriculation or STPM route.”

Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim, however, said the ministry’s decision was a fair approach.

“It is favourable for students who have been consistent in their work. It encourages consistency and penalises last minute work,” she said.

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Admission interviews, tests start on April 29 for UPU post-SPM applicants

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020
Decisions on the admission of SPM school graduates into certificate, foundation, matriculation, diploma and Bachelor of Education (PISMP) programmes are expected to be announced on June 3.Decisions on the admission of SPM school graduates into certificate, foundation, matriculation, diploma and Bachelor of Education (PISMP) programmes are expected to be announced on June 3.

KUALA LUMPUR: The screening of candidates who applied for places in post-SPM programmes at public tertiary education institutions via UPUOnline for the 2020/2021 academic session is set to begin next week.

Running from April 29 to May 20, the interviews or tests will be conducted by the respective public universities, teacher education institutes (IPGs), the Matriculation Division of the Education Ministry, the Department of Polytechnic and Community Colleges, as well as the skills training institutes (ILKAs).

Director of the Student Admission Division at the Higher Education Ministry, Wahi Nordin, stated that in view of the Covid-19 crisis, the institutions are free to choose the methods of conducting interviews or tests – whether face-to-face, online, via YouTube, video, or other appropriate ways to ensure that they obtain the best candidates who qualify for the programmes.

“Part of the student selection process – undergoing the interviews or tests – is a condition of admission to specific programmes as determined by the university or institution’s senate,” he said.

Decisions on the admission of SPM school graduates into certificate, foundation, matriculation, diploma and Bachelor of Education (PISMP) programmes are expected to be announced on June 3.

For STPM certificate holders and those of equivalent qualifications, interviews and admission exams for relevant programmes will be conducted by public universities from June 1 to July 21.

“Post-foundation and matriculation candidates can update their programme selections in Phase 2, from July 20 to 24. Diploma or equivalent qualification holders can upload required documents within the same period,” said Wahi.

Selection results for STPM or equivalent applicants for admission into bachelor degree programmes at public universities are expected to be announced on Aug 18.

All application results will be announced through the portal and UPUPocket, which is a mobile application that can be downloaded on mobile devices. The status of applications and appeal decisions can also be checked via UPUPocket.

The UPUOnline application to public tertiary education institutions closed on April 17.

Managed by the Central University Admission Division at the Higher Education Ministry, the UPUOnline deadline was extended from March 31 for Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) school leavers and April 7 for Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) certificate holders and those with equivalent qualifications.

This was to allow students ample time to submit their applications amid the enforcement of the Covid-19 movement control order (MCO).

By Rozana Sani.

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Parents: No exams but learning continues for their children

Friday, April 17th, 2020
With the cancellation of public examinations announced yesterday, parents are making sure that children’s learning still continues during the MCO. – NSTP/File pic
With the cancellation of public examinations announced yesterday, parents are making sure that children’s learning still continues during the MCO. – NSTP/File pic

KUALA LUMPUR: With the cancellation of public examinations announced yesterday, parents are making sure that children’s learning still continues during the Movement Control Order (MCO).

A parent of Year Six student, Rosniami Ismail said: “I want my son to keep his momentum in studying because he will still be entering secondary school next year.

“He needs to strengthen his basic understanding in all subjects to advance to Form One, with or without Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR).

“I’m sure the new assessment will include examinations at school level. That is why I am sticking with my original plan to ensure that the learning process does not stop for my son.

“During the MCO, I did my own monitoring of my son’s homework tasked by his teachers via Google Classroom or WhatsApp. I make sure that the homework is properly filed for submission once school is reopened.

“Not much will change, he will still be revising and doing exercises for all subjects, as well as going to home tuition for Mathematics and Science.

“As for Bahasa Melayu and English, he needs to do a lot of exercises for his vocabulary and grammar. I also make sure he reads samples of essays from Berita Harian’s Didik and get him to copy the model answer to improve his writing,” she said.

Another parent, Muhammed Hafiz Abdullah said he was shocked upon the announcement of cancellation of public examinations. Having a 12-year-old son himself, he said this is the time where parents need to step up and do as much to monitor their children’s progress in studying.

“I believe that there is a silver lining behind the situation that we are facing. I am currently working from home hence, it is my responsibility to be involved with my son’s education to ensure that the learning process is on going despite school’s closure and cancellation of UPSR.

“Me and my wife constantly communicate with teachers asking if there is any homework or assessment that my son needs to complete. Then we will allocate time for him to carry out his tasks and provide guidance if needed.

“In our country, we have been talking about abolishing public examinations and moving away from exam-oriented learning.

“Now that the situation calls for it, we are forced to think out of the box and carry on with it. The way I see it, it’s a blessing in disguise,” Muhammed Hafiz commented.

Sekolah Kebangsaan Kampung Tunku headmaster and Science teacher Khairul Anuar Abdul Azid said even though UPSR is called off, that doesn’t mean teaching and learning should stop.

School-based assessments will still be carried out and it is important to keep students motivated, he added.

“The MCO has opened up opportunities for teachers and students to discover various learning platforms. I utilised Google Forms application in coming out with quizzes. It is convenient to organise and analyse the answers submitted by students using the application’s features. I can easily identify which areas need improvements.

“The quiz could be one of the alternative assessments, since there will be no UPSR.

“Parents have mixed feelings about the news. I could say that most of them are on board with the way we are carrying out our lessons now. Online learning is currently taking place without major disruptions.”

He added that all 84 teachers in the school are committed to ensuring that students are not left behind in their studies during the MCO.

Yesterday, Education Ministry announced the cancellation of Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) for Year 6 pupils and Pentaksiran Tingkatan Tiga (PT3) for Form 3 students for this year.

By Murniati Abu Karim.

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Dr Zulkifli to address nation on Kafa examinations

Friday, April 17th, 2020
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Seri Dr Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri. - NSTP/IQMAL HAQIM ROSMAN
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Seri Dr Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri. – NSTP/IQMAL HAQIM ROSMAN

KUALA LUMPUR: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Seri Dr Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri will address the nation today on the status of Fardhu Ain and Kifayah (Kafa) examinations in light of the Movement Control Order (MCO).

The live telecast at noon will be broadcast on Zulkifli’s official Facebook page and on Al Bakri Media TV.

On Wednesday, Education Minister Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin said state governments are expected to follow the ministry’s decision either to cancel or continue Kafa examinations this year.

Mohd Radzi said discussions have been held with all state governments and religious departments on the status of Kafa examinations.

“This is about the children’s safety. We must make sure the risk is kept to a minimum.

“There will be 450,000 UPSR candidates nationwide, this year,” he said.

Kafa examinations are usually taken by Year Six students attending Islamic religious schools.

UPSR and PT3 examinations for 2020 were cancelled nationwide on Wednesday over the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting MCO.

By Khairah N Karim,

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Stringent evidence-based assessment assured for Cambridge exams

Thursday, April 9th, 2020
Cambridge International exams are being replaced by evidence-based assessment in the May/June series. - Pic courtesy of Cambridge International
Cambridge International exams are being replaced by evidence-based assessment in the May/June series. – Pic courtesy of Cambridge International

CAMBRIDGE Assessment International Education (CAIE) has assured that grades and certificates to be issued based on the alternative assessment which is replacing its May and June 2020 examination series will be no different to those in previous years’ and would enable students to progress to their next stage of learning.

CAIE, also known as Cambridge International, had earlier taken the decision to cancel all its exams due to health and safety concerns arising from the Covid-19 outbreak. These include the Cambridge IGCSE exams, Cambridge O Level, and Cambridge International AS and A Level.

In an exclusive interview with Higher ED, Cambridge International Southeast Asia & Pacific regional director Dr Ben Schmidt detailed out the evidence-based assessment which will be done collaboratively with schools.

Cambridge International Southeast Asia & Pacific regional director Dr Ben Schmidt. - Pic courtesy of Cambridge InternationalCambridge International Southeast Asia & Pacific regional director Dr Ben Schmidt. – Pic courtesy of Cambridge International

“We are not leaving the current cohort of students without a grade or certificate from Cambridge. Every student who has been entered for the Cambridge exam in this coming series will be offered a grade and a certificate which will be based on an alternative grading process,” he said.

The evidence-based assessment process first involves asking schools (also known as exam centres) to look at any evidence that they have of the achievement of their students. These could be coursework, work set in class, mock exams, assignments – anything that the teacher has.

“We are asking the teachers to make a professional judgement on the basis of the evidence that they have and on how well they know their students. This is what we call a predicted grade,” he explained.

The school will then determine a rank order of its candidates within each grade. “The head of school is required to confirm the predicted grades and rank orders, and that the process was fair and the methodology they used is based on best available evidence, best possible teacher judgement and professionally done,” said Schmidt.

The school will then send the predicted grades and rank orders to Cambridge International which will carry out a statistical standardisation process, combining data from the school with other data, and award final grades.

“If a school decides to submit for some reason grades that are overall higher than they should be, then we have checks and balances and we can reduce that so that no one will be advantaged or disadvantaged. This also applies if the school’s (predicted grade) judgement is lower than it should be,” said Schmidt.

Elaborating further on the evidence, Schmidt said the more recent the evidence the better because students make progress.

“We can also accept evidence of work that has been done remotely by students following the implementation of online learning in some schools as long as the teachers can be confident that these are the students’ own work,” he said.

On what teachers should look for during assessment and how the grades should be awarded, Schmidt said this would be based on the learning objectives that would translate into assessment objectives of each respective subject.

“For example, in any language subject, the learning objectives fall into the four areas of the four essential language skills. And normally in the exams, we need to assess students on the four skills. In the same way, we are asking teachers to look at evidence in the language subjects that they have, on how well the students have performed in each of the relevant learning and assessment objectives – in this case reading, writing, speaking and listening,” Schmidt illustrated.

Asked about how private candidates are to be assessed in this evidence-based method, Schmidt said they would be treated the same way as the school candidates.

“We realise however that in some cases the school (centre) may not be able to find enough evidence for some of the private candidates that originally want to sit the exams with them in the May/June series. In that case, the option for them is to take the exam in the October/November 2020 series. We will of course not charge any fees for them in this coming May/June series,” he said.

Schools are to submit the predicted grades and rank order to Cambridge International no earlier than May 29. Schmidt said the deadline for submission has yet to be finalised.

“For the May/June exam series, the results will typically be released in mid-August if exams were held, and Cambridge International intends to stick by the same timeline as it would have been if the exams had taken place under normal conditions,” he said.

This is especially important for A Level students who would use their grades and certificate to apply for place in university.

“Cambridge International have been in close contact with universities in developing this whole process and we have coordinated closely with universities as well as the governments – whether the UK government or others, and other international exam bodies and the UK regulator Ofqual (The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation).

“We have received feedback that universities are very confident with what we are doing. The two keywords that describe the attitude of universities with regards to this current cohort are fairness and flexibility. The universities absolutely don’t want the current students in this current pandemic to be disadvantaged compared to previous students.

How grades are determined for Cambridge International May and June 2020 series. - Courtesy of Cambridge InternationalHow grades are determined for Cambridge International May and June 2020 series. – Courtesy of Cambridge International

“The universities, of course, want an intake of students that are suitable for their university this year as much as they do in previous years. and so they will rely on the Cambridge AS and A Level certificates in the same way they have in previous years and they have all said to us that they will take these unprecedented circumstances into consideration in the way they make their judgement about student intake,” said Schmidt.

On other issues, Schmidt said there will be continuous communications between Cambridge International and schools to keep them constantly updated on any development or decisions.

“There is one concern among those who don’t want to get a grade or a certificate in this May/June series and would rather wait till November and sit exams in the normal way – which is we traditionally offer fewer subjects in the November series compared to the June series,” Schmidt shared.

“We are working hard to make sure that we can offer as many subjects as possible in the November series but we have not finalised any decisions on that yet. But we are very much aware that people want to know and I hope that I can give an update on that soon,” he said.

Cambridge International is due to send general update to schools on 16 April.

By Rozana Sani.

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Exam dates rescheduled

Sunday, March 29th, 2020

PETALING JAYA: The Education Ministry has rescheduled centralised and other major examinations following the extension of the movement control order until April 14.

For the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) exam dates, the written portion will now be conducted in one phase from Nov 16 to Dec 7.

Originally, the first phase was to start from Oct 5-14 while the second phase was from Nov 2-19.

The Form Three Assessment (PT3) which is scheduled for Sept 28 to Oct 6 will see the Bahasa Malaysia and English Language papers held on Sept 28 and Sept 29 respectively.

However, the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) examination dates remained unchanged, said the ministry in a statement.

The Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) Semester 2 examination which was initially scheduled for early May has been postponed to Nov 18,19,23 and 24 while the Semester 3 examination will take place as scheduled on Nov 3,4, 5,9 and 10.

The Semester 2 examination was rescheduled to give ample time for schools to manage the remaining second semester.

Separately, all public institutions of higher education (IPTA) must begin the second semester for the current academic year between April 27 and June 1.

The Higher Education Ministry said the decision was made following the extension of the MCO.

“The decision was made after an in-depth discussion with representatives from all IPTAs and private higher education institutions (IPTS) and taking into consideration several factors, ” it said in a statement.

The ministry said among the factors were the latest MCO period and directives regarding Covid-19, students’ safety and welfare, and the Hari Raya holidays which would start on May 24.

The ministry added that it had considered the readiness of higher education institutions to implement teaching and learning using a variety of methods, including online learning, and also the need to end the current semester and begin the new 2020/2021 academic year.

“The first semester of the new academic year is expected to begin in mid-October 2020, ” it said, adding that IPTS were free to choose their own dates based on their own academic calendars and taking into account the above factors.

“Based on this, IPTAs need to manage the return of their students to the campus and take into account the above factors.”

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Education Ministry washes its hands of Zakir Naik exam question issue

Monday, December 30th, 2019

PETALING JAYA: The Education Ministry’s Higher Education Department will not interfere in the matter of exam questions from a public university that went viral, on the basis of “autonomy with accountability”.

The department said some questions from Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP) included lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender-related questions, Jawi consolidation and Zakir Naik being an “icon” of the Islamic world.

“We will not interfere in the conduct of academic programmes as we hold to the concept of autonomy with accountability.

“Through this, the university is responsible to all stakeholders, including students and the public, ” said the department in a statement Monday (Dec 30).

The department added that every university has an internal and external quality assurance system.

“Academic committees of each university (including the university senate) are responsible for their academic standards, ” it said.

UniMAP is expected to provide further clarification on this issue, the department added.

It also said that it constantly monitors universities’ excellence through a number of matrices such as graduates marketability, institutional excellence, and the university’s impact on industry and society.

The question is believed to be part of the university’s Ethnic Relations Course, and the test was held on Sunday (Dec 29).

The question reads: “Zakir Naik is one of the icons of the Islamic world, he is very active in spreading true Islam and following the Quran and Sunnah of Rasullah SAW. He is able to reason and to answer every question that is asked to him. However, in Malaysia, he is no longer allowed to deliver speeches. In your opinion, as a Malaysian, why does this happen?”

The answers provided were: (1) Malaysians do not bother getting actual information; (2) Malaysians are sensitive and feel threatened for no reason; 3) Malaysians just follow the crowd without verifying any information; or

4) Malaysians are ignorant about their own religion.

The multiple-choice question allows the student to choose more than one answer.

In August, Zakir was banned from delivering public speeches in Malaysia after he insulted Malaysians of Chinese and Indian descent, and is known for criticising other religions.

He was at the recent Kuala Lumpur Summit 2019, saying he was there at the invitation of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.


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Focus on students’ development

Thursday, December 12th, 2019
Higher Order Thinking Skills must be executed in stages. FILE PIC

THE Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results are out.

Our education system reform appears to be heading in the right direction. Let’s hope for more progressive moves to secure a better position.

Interestingly, the results had caused many to steer their interest towards HOTS (Higher Order Thinking Skills). Some teachers are showing a genuine interest to learn the techniques needed to handle HOTS questions and are even requesting courses to be held to assist them. Kudos to them.

However, no amount of courses is going to help if the basic skills of thinking are not honed among the students.

Analytical, critical and creative thinking are the basis for tackling such questions. These skills are important as they have a profound impact not just on the exam results but also on a student’s future.

Contrary to general belief, HOTS cannot be taught in isolation but has to be integrated into lessons and made an integral part of teaching and learning.

HOTS questions expect students to apply, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information instead of simply recalling facts. Unfortunately, I seldom see these skills given due importance in schools.

In the quest to secure good grades, memorising and recalling skills are glorified, leaving critical thinking critically abandoned.

It should be executed in levels, beginning with knowledge or remembering which then has to be gradually moved to understanding, applying, analysing, evaluating and finally, creating.

It’s sad to see our students’ progress slows down after the initial two levels.

Remembering facts are still given paramount importance in many schools.

Producing desirable results is demanded from teachers and oftentimes, they bow to this pressure thus becoming mechanical in their approach and techniques in delivering knowledge.

Instilling HOTS skills consumes time and many do not have the patience.

It’s high time we focus on a holistic development of our students — intellectual, spiritual, emotional, as well as physical dimensions — and arm them with the much-needed skills.


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Form Four elective subjects: Subject packages instead based on interests and capabilities

Thursday, November 28th, 2019

Education deputy director-general Dr Habibah Abdul Rahim.

KUALA LUMPUR: Form Four students will not be allowed to choose elective subjects solely at their whims and fancies.

Education Ministry deputy director-general (policy and curriculum) Dr Habibah Abdul Rahim (pic) said instead they will be given subject packages which cater to their interests and capabilities.

“It is not totally open and flexible,” she said during a briefing on the new subject package options for Form Four students.

This new system will come into effect in 2020, affecting this year’s Form Three students.

She said the new packages will allow students to pick up to five elective subjects and mix between the subjects.

Habibah added that there are two main packages – STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and literature and humanities.

She also said the subject packages offered to students will depend on the capabilities, availability, suitability (facilities/infrastructure), as well as consideration of each school.

There had been a lot of confusion among the public when Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik announced that Form Four students will no longer be streamed into Science and Arts last month.

Stakeholders were questioning how this would be implemented with many worrying about how it will affect students’ chances of pursuing their tertiary studies.

Entry requirements to higher education institutions are based on certain subject combinations.

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Maszlee: Govt still waiting for UEC review committee report

Sunday, September 29th, 2019

KLUANG: The government is awaiting reports from the special task force on the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) before deciding if the certificate should be recognised nationwide, says Dr Maszlee Malik (pic).

“We need to get reports from the committee’s findings first before we can decide on it.

“Once we have received it, the ministry would then bring it forward for the Cabinet to make a decision,” said the Education Minister.

He said this to reporters after attending the Sentuhan Kasih Program at SMK Dato Abd Rahman Andak in Simpang Renggam here Sunday (Sept 29).

Dr Maszlee was reported as saying in Parliament that the special committee would consult with stakeholders, collect feedback and compile data on UEC.

When asked to comment on Sabah’s decision to recognise the UEC, Dr Maszlee said it was a choice the state had made on its own.

It was earlier reported that the Sabah state government had given the nod to UEC, making it the fifth state to do so after Sarawak, Selangor, Penang and Melaka.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said the state Cabinet had made the decision to recognise UEC holders for enrolment into local institutes of higher learning as well as employment in the state civil service.

However, this comes with conditions including getting a credit in Bahasa Melayu and a pass in History at the SPM level as well as a pass in the Malaysia University English Test (MUET).

The UEC is a standardised test organised by the United Chinese School Committees Association of Malaysia (Dong Jiao Zong) based on the curriculum taught in Independent Chinese Secondary Schools (ICSS).

UEC is recognised as an entrance qualification in many international tertiary educational institutions in Singapore, Australia, Taiwan, China and some European countries, as well as most private colleges in Malaysia.

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