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FAQ: What you need to know about secondary school entry scores under the new PSLE grading system

FAQ: What you need to know about secondary school entry scores under the new PSLE grading system

Students from Ang Mo Kio Primary School receive their PSLE results in 2019. (File photo: Ministry of Education)

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Education (MOE) released the range of indicative cut-off scores for the different types of secondary schools in Singapore on Friday (Nov 6) , saying this will help parents and students familiarise themselves with the new primary school leaving examination (PSLE) scoring system.

Next year's PSLE students will be graded with Achievement Levels (AL) of 1 to 8 for each subject, with their final score made up of the Achievement Levels they get for each of the four subjects. The lower the score, the better.

On Friday, MOE said it generated a range of indicative cut-off points for each school type - Government and Government-aided Schools, Autonomous Schools and Independent Schools - based on the PSLE results and school choices from last year's Primary 6 cohort.

Here’s what you need to know about the new PSLE scoring system and what the indicative cut-off point ranges mean for parents and students: 

READ: New PSLE scoring system: MOE releases range of indicative cut-off points for different types of secondary schools

Q: What is the range of indicative cut-off points for each school type?

A: For Government and Government-aided schools, the indicative cut-off point range for the Express (Integrated Programme) course is 7 to 9. Under this category of schools, students will need to score between 8 and 22 points for the Express (O-Level) course, 22 to 25 points for the Normal (Academic) course and 26 to 30 points for the Normal (Technical) course. 

At autonomous schools, the indicative cut-off point ranges for the Express (Integrated Programme) and Normal (Academic) courses are the same as Government and Government-aided schools. The range for the Express (O-Level) course is 8 to 16 points, while that for the Normal (Technical) course is 26 to 29 points. 

For independent schools, the indicative cut-off ranges for the Express (Integrated Programme) is 6 to 8 points, and 8 to 10 points for the Express (O-Level) course.

Q: How will PSLE scores be calculated under the new Achievement Level scoring system? 

A: Under the new PSLE scoring system, students will be graded for each subject based on an Achievement Level score ranging from 1 to 8, with 1 being the best and 8 the worst.

Their final PSLE grade will be calculated by adding up the Achievement Levels they receive for each of the four subjects – English, mother tongue, mathematics and science. Possible aggregates range from the highest score of 4 to the lowest of 32, which will affect which secondary school they get posted to.

READ: PSLE maths - Thorn in the side of parents, or challenge to embrace?

Q: How were indicative cut-off point ranges for the different school types derived?

Based on the PSLE results and school choices of the Primary 6 cohort last year, the Education Ministry first simulated each student’s individual subject score in Achievement Level terms, based on their raw subject scores. 

The Achievement Level scores for each subject were then added up to derive each student’s PSLE score.

Using these simulated PSLE scores and students’ school choices from 2019, the posting outcomes were simulated based on the new Secondary 1 posting system and the related tie-breakers. 

The indicative Achievement Level cut-off point for each school was determined by the PSLE score of the last student admitted, or the lowest score admitted by that school after the tie-breakers were applied. 

Based on the scores of the last students admitted across all the schools within that type bracket, MOE then took the highest and the lowest cut-off points to form the indicative range for that category of school. 

The simulation is purely indicative and the actual cut-off point for a school may vary from year to year, as they depend on the PSLE results and school choice patterns of each Primary 6 cohort, said the Education Ministry.

READ: Commentary - What I would tell my 12-year-old self about PSLE results

Q: When will the cut-off point for individual secondary schools be released? 

The cut-off point for individual secondary schools will be released in the first half of 2021, and determined by the results and school choices of the PSLE cohort next year. 

The indicative cut-off point range for each school will also be released, referring to the highest and the lowest scores of the students admitted into that school. 

Q: How will the cut-off points work for affiliated schools?

For affiliated schools, there will be two sets of cut-off points - one for affiliated students and the other, for non-affiliated students.

There will be no change in terms of how the affiliation priority works under the new scoring system. This means that the affiliated student from the primary school must be able to meet that minimum requirement and must also choose the affiliated secondary school as his or her first choice.

Whether or not a affiliated student gets admitted also depends on the number of vacancies and applications that year. 

The ministry will work with the schools to determine the minimum requirements for affiliated students. 

Q: How should parents and students pick their secondary schools?

As the Achievement Level bands have been “deliberately designed” to be wider, more schools are likely to have the same Achievement Level cut-off point, said the Education Ministry. 

Parents and students are encouraged to look beyond the schools’ cut-off points when choosing a secondary school, and choose schools that would best suit their child overall. 

The students’ learning needs, interests, strengths and aspirations, as well as the school’s culture, environment, ethos, and programmes should be taken into consideration. 

Parents are also encouraged to find out more about the schools’ programmes, co-curricular activities, and proximity to their home when making their choices. 

Parents and students should note that the order of the schools chosen will also be a tie-breaker in the Secondary 1 posting system from 2021. 

“We advise students and parents to give careful thought to the choices that they indicate on the S1 Option Form, and to choose schools with a range of COPs that can best meet the learning needs of their child,” said the Education Ministry. 

Source: CNA/hw

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