Synopsis: Ujian di sekolah rendah = Primary school tests

Apakah cara yang terbaik untuk menguji kemahiran murid sekolah rendah?
= How should primary school students be tested?

Sepanjang bulan April, kami telah menerokai persoalan ini melalui (a) perbincangan tentang perubahan di Malaysia serta amalan dan kajian di negara lain dalam post Pengenalan, (b) petikan komen daripada pembaca-pembaca serta pengguna Twitter dalam post Apa Kata, dan (c) temu bual bersama Dilla Kamal, seorang guru sekolah rendah yang berpengalaman, dalam post Q&A. Minggu ini, kami menghuraikan perbincangan tentang ujian di sekolah rendah ini.

= Throughout April, we have explored this question in (a) a discussion of changes in Malaysia as well as practices and studies in other countries, in our Pengenalan post, (b) a selection of comments from our readers and from Twitter users in our Apa Kata post, and (c) an interview with Dilla Kamal, an experienced primary school teacher, in our Q&A post. This week, we summarise this discussion about primary school tests.

1. Pemberhentian peperiksaan untuk murid Tahap 1 di sekolah rendah dapat mengurangkan tekanan peperiksaan serta membuka peluang untuk pelbagai jenis pembelajaran.
= The recent move to take away exams for students in lower primary school will reduce exam stress and open up space for other kinds of learning.

… the previous year I had met up with a friend who had moved his family from Singapore back to Malaysia some years ago because he wanted his children to grow up in a more relaxed environment. The last time I saw him, he shared that he was thinking of moving his kids BACK to Singapore because the system was now becoming LESS stressful than Malaysian Chinese schools.

—Xenobio, commenting on the Pengenalan post (on dialogpendidikan.com)

Many teachers like me would agree that the abolishment of exams for lower primary students is a change that is long overdue. For too long, our children have been on a high-speed train catching up with the syllabus, mindlessly drilling and preparing for exams. It is time to take a pause and focus on what truly matters, which is finding joy in learning.
In case no one realized, the removal of standardised exams will free up about four weeks of curriculum time in a year. … Since standardised tests are out of the picture, there could be more hands-on learning or investigative lessons without having to worry about what might be tested in the examination. Classroom time that was used to teach test-taking strategies can also now be spent on teaching kindness and empathy in our classrooms because just like respect, kindness and empathy must be taught.

—Dilla Kamal, when interviewed in our Q&A

2. Sama ada murid Tahap 1 menduduki atau tidak menduduki peperiksaan, mereka patut ditaksir secara konsisten supaya tiada sesiapa yang ketinggalan.
= However, whether or not we have exams, it is important to make sure that they are assessed regularly and carefully so none of them get left behind.

I think it’s good to have some types of assessments to see how the students are progressing so that the teachers can adjust their teaching accordingly. It’s sad and shocking to hear of students progressing to Form 1 who can’t read and write properly.

—Hwa Hui-En, on the Pengenalan (Facebook)

Undeniably, there are the downsides to not having any standardised assessment in the first three years of schooling. Students, parents and even teachers may take advantage of the situation and use this as an excuse to not push for their best. The lack of standardised exams has to be made up for in the form of solid formative assessments in the classroom

—Dilla Kamal, when interviewed in our Q&A

Fair enough, you need a way to ensure that every child has acquired the basics before moving on to secondary school. But they need to make the secondary school options more flexible so that society doesn’t assume that one examination at age 12 dictates one’s destiny. Especially given the evidence that intelligence can change quite dramatically during adolescence. I have heard that many Singaporean HR departments demand new hires’ PSLE results, which is beyond ridiculous when evaluating an adult.

–Xenobio, on the Pengenalan (dialogpendidikan.com)

3. Saiz kelas yang besar mungkin menimbulkan cabaran bagi guru yang ingin mentaksir murid tanpa menggunakan ujian bertulis.
= Large class sizes may make it difficult for teachers to assess students without using written tests.

I think we should keep the mid-year and end-of-year exams even for children in Tahap 1. Written exams are simpler to administer and more objective when compared to “storytelling, simple projects, games, role-playing and quizzes”. Moreover, too much lesson time will be taken up to assess children by these means, especially when there are many children in the class.

–TY Chang, on the Pengenalan (dialogpendidikan.com)

I personally believe that teachers are more than ready to implement classroom-based assessment in replacement of the summative assessment, because teachers have been using formative assessments in the classroom to provide feedback since the beginning of time. However, I do not deny the challenges that we are facing, especially in the first few years of its implementation. We are still trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t and this will definitely take time getting used to. Large classroom size can be a hindrance for teachers to carry out a thorough assessment and the possibility of students not getting enough or necessary feedback is high. Classroom size has been the major cause of why standardised tests have been favoured for so long because ideally, standardised tests are easier to carry out than formative tests when it comes to large classroom size.

—Dilla Kamal, in the Q&A

4. Para guru mungkin juga menghadapi cabaran dalam mentaksir murid yang berbeza dengan adil.
= Teachers will also face the challenge of assessing all students fairly despite the differences between them.

Last year [Singapore] announced that they are also abolishing exams for lower primary. … For Primary 1 and 2 students in particular, there won’t even be weighted assessments and teachers will report individual students’ learning qualitatively. I think this does require teachers to have the training and time to be able to do this well and fairly though.

I’m not sure if Malaysian teachers would be up to this yet without re-training some of them. I can imagine this subjective evaluation could be quite horrible in the hands of an unprofessional teacher, they would just write nice things about their pets and nasty things about the class “black sheep” regardless of how much the kids are actually capable of.

–Xenobio, on the Pengenalan (dialogpendidikan.com)

We should also keep in mind that children who are shy or do not have good oral skills will not do well in storytelling or role-playing. So how will they be assessed?

–TY Chang, on the Pengenalan (dialogpendidikan.com)

5. Guru-guru sedang bekerja bersungguh-sungguh untuk mengenal pasti cara-cara pentaksiran yang paling sesuai untuk memudahkan pembelajaran murid.
= Teachers are working hard to assess students in the ways that best support their learning.

I admit that some school administrators tend to nitpick at how teachers manage their formative assessment data, and some teachers, while they are given full autonomy to choose how they go about doing these assessments, have no confidence in their own decisions and rely heavily on what others do without taking their own teaching style and students’ learning styles into consideration. These are the problems that we teachers need to sort through. However, rest assured that we are taking baby steps. I think we are definitely getting there.

—Dilla Kamal, in the Q&A


Terima kasih kerana mengikuti perbincangan bulan ini tentang pentaksiran di sekolah rendah! Sertai kami bulan depan dalam perbincangan baru: “Apakah cara yang terbaik untuk membahagikan mata pelajaran di sekolah menengah?” Dan sila lawati kami di Facebook. 🙂

Thank you for taking part in this month’s discussion on primary school assessments! Join us next month, when we will discuss: “How much choice should students have about their subjects in secondary school?” And don’t forget to visit us on Facebook. 🙂

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