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  • Writer's pictureJeannette Koh

Has the removal of the SA1 really reduced stress in parents, teachers and students?

MOE directive

In 2022 on March 7, Education Minister Mr Chan Chun Sing announced that all mid-year examinations would be removed in 2023 for primary and secondary schools. This bold move was made to reduce exam stress and the overwhelming emphasis on grades. By relieving teachers of formal exam preparation and result analysis, teachers and students would have at least 3 weeks to go in depth into topics they were studying instead of rushing through them.

Same old, same old

At first glance, this new directive seems like a very bold MOE initiative. It presents itself as forward-thinking and moving in the right direction. On closer inspection, this is nothing new. When I was teaching in a primary school from 1992- 2006, schools were also given the leeway to remove the CAs (Continual Assessments) in the first and third terms, due to the reasons mentioned above. The CAs were brought back in due time as without these assessments, students were not motivated to study the topics required much to the chagrin of the teachers. However, almost 20 years down the line, we are back where we started. And this time the removal of the SA1 is official. No turning back.

Advantages of removing the SA1

By freeing up at least 3 weeks of curriculum time needed for test preparation and analysis of the exam results, it would give teachers time to explore teaching and learning in a more holistic manner. Teachers could incorporate more hands-on activities, lessons beyond the textbook, and encourage more social and emotional awareness in their lessons.

Moreover, the increased curriculum time would be used to improve metacognition and cultivate greater responsibility and awareness of students' own learning.

How would teachers assess learning without the SA1?

In place of the SA1, weighted (WA) and non-weighted (non-WA) assessments would be given to gauge student learning. The results are based on cumulative and formative assessments, and not just dependent on a final summative report. This would provide teachers and students with a time-sensitive feedback loop to act on learning gaps and remedy weak areas.

Most school assessment subject schedules would be similar to the table below. Individual schools assign which component in a particular subject to be assessed based on prescribed schemes of work.

*The weightage I believe is set by individual schools and varies. For example, it may be 15% for the first 3 terms and 55% for the final one. Or 10% for Term 1, 15% for Term 2 and 3, and 60% for Term 4.

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