SINGAPORE: A student with special needs was issued the wrong examination paper during the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) on Sep 15, his school confirmed on Thursday (Oct 12).
Pei Chun Public School said the student, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), was seated alone in class and given extra time to complete the exam due to his condition. He was supposed to be issued the Chinese listening comprehension paper at a foundation level but was given a standard paper instead, it added.
According to the primary school, the paper was given to the student by an external invigilator and the school was notified by the external presiding examiner after the examination.
After it was notified, Pei Chun immediately got in touch with the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) on the matter and submitted a special consideration form to the board, it said.
It added that it engaged with the child and his family, meeting up with the student's father and assuring him that SEAB will not put the child at a disadvantage and that the child’s interests remained the top priority.
In an email reply to Channel NewsAsia on Tuesday, SEAB said it would give a fair assessment to the student.
“SEAB will take into consideration the circumstances of the incident, the candidate’s performance in the school preliminary examinations and in the other PSLE foundation Chinese papers, and the cohort’s performance in the subject," it said.
The case is still under investigation.
STUDENT'S MORALE "TOOK A HIT": FATHER
The child's father, who declined to be named, told Channel NewsAsia on Wednesday that he was told by the vice-principal after the incident that the child would not be allowed to re-sit the paper as it was the rule set out by the Education Ministry.
However, he was unhappy and disappointed that his child’s preliminary results will now be considered as part of the exam as a result of what had happened.
“The preliminary exams, which are taken before national exams like the PSLE, are typically tougher, and my child may not have been as well prepared for them. You are writing off two months of his hard work and he could have scored much better in his PSLE," he said.
He added that his son's morale also "took a hit" as he could not answer the questions in the paper given.
"Now I’m worried about how he’s going to perform for the English listening comprehension exam as that came after the Chinese paper.
“I hope the authorities look into whether they should allow students to re-sit the national exams during such incidents as it’s not my son’s fault that the wrong paper was issued to him.”
PROCESSES IN PLACE WHEN DISTRIBUTING PAPERS: SEAB
SEAB said there are established processes in place for the distribution of examination question papers, which all exam personnel are briefed on before the start of each paper.
These include the personnel assigned to manage candidates who require access arrangements, which are provisions to support accessibility to examinations for candidates with special needs or medical conditions, it said.
When asked how many such cases had surfaced in the past, SEAB would not disclose any details.
Last year, 73 Secondary 5 students from Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary School and Woodgrove Secondary School took the wrong O-Level mathematics paper after a mix-up in the subject codes during registration.
Government Parliamentary Committee for Education chair Denise Phua said enforcement has to be tightened for such incidents.
"The examinations board is not unprepared or unfamiliar with the system. There is already an existing system that provides for access arrangements and measures are even listed as to what's required by the students, such as if there's need for visual cues or extended time," Ms Phua said.
"The system is there; we need to tighten the enforcement and always review the process on a regular basis."