ALSO BY

MHH

    Primary school assessment a total mess

    Last year it was called Sistem Pentaksiran Pendidikan Kebangsaan (SPPK). My school was one of the pioneers of the project. The Ministry of Education thought that exam oriented approach to teaching was not fair to all the students.  The argument was that six years of primary education should not be concluded in 50 minutes of multiple choice questions. The intention was good. It still is.

    Now with Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Rendah (KSSR) comes Pentaksiran Berasaskan Sekolah. You may have heard of it. The Minister of Education refers to this as PBS and it was meant to ensure that no pupil will be left behind due to unfortunate circumstances. It being school based means that the teacher knows best when to assess the pupil.

    This school based assessment is a yearly assessment and it contributes 40 percent towards the UPSR final grade. At the beginning of the year we were told that only five subjects were involved namely Bahasa, English, Mathematics, Science and Physical, Sports, Cocurriculum Activity Education.

    The school was to prepare files aplenty. The most notable one would be the ‘Showcase’ file in which we store the pupil’s best piece of work throughout 6 years as evidence. It sounded O.K. But that was the beginning of the year.

    And so we opened all the necessary files. The bigger the school population, the more files needed. Each of the teacher in charge of assessment was provided with a Performance Standard Document as a guideline. It was published by the Malaysian Examination Syndicate. Bear in mind that this was last year’s edition - the one used by the pioneer schools.

    One thing that was wrong with it was that the documents for mathematics and science were still written in English. This raised questions but the teachers being jacks of all trade did not complain at this point. Where there is a will there is a way. School based assessment was up and running by late January.
        
    In April, we were told to halt the school based assessment pending for the arrival of new Performance Standard Documents by the Malaysian Examination Syndicate. All assessments done up until this point was deemed invalid. School based assessment was put to a halt at this point.
        
    In May, we were informed that the school based assessment now involves every subject in KSSR including Information and Communication Technology Element which is not even a subject taught by any specific teacher. Even the newly minted Bahasa Arab for KSSR was not spared.

    Each subject has its own Performance Standard Document. So we bought thicker files and put dividers for each subject. It got a little frustrating at this point. We needed to redo the in-house training for the additional subjects. By the way, even until now nobody mentioned that UPSR 2016 will involve every KSSR subject.      
        
    The sample worksheets (instrument for assessment) per se is ridiculous. For example Band 1 assessment for Bahasa is fairly fundamental knowledge such as mimicking sounds, naming them, reading word segments, and tracing alphabets.

    But when you look at the Bands 1 and 2 assessment for Moral Education it’s like a mini literature. It assumed Year 1 pupils read fluently and write smoothly. Even Year 4 pupils could not do Year 1’s Band 2 Moral Education worksheet.    
        
    In June, the Examination Syndicate uploaded an online application called Sistem Pengurusan Pentaksiran Berasaskan Sekolah (SPPBS) to do what it was supposed to do hence the name.

    The school secretary of examinations was given the task to create user accounts for every local assessor. We attended the in-house training which was done by our secretary himself. School based assessment was up and running again by end of June.
        
    Surprise, surprise. The Examination Syndicate’s circular regarding the compulsory implementation of school based assessment only came out on July 5. Every school has a copy but for unknown reasons you will not find this circular online.

    I’ve searched the official website and I’ve Googled for traces of it elsewhere. I suspect it is due to the delay of the letter (supposed to have been distributed in January) and that certain quarters might dispute the validity of assessments done prior to its release.
        
    The most ridiculous part was this. I was about the record the qualifiers for Bands 2 and 3 for the subjects that I assessed on Friday, September 3. What I saw was truly horrifying. The entire database was erased by the system administrator! We were prompted to get our new passwords from the State Education Department.

    And upon navigation no news of passwords whatsoever can be found. This is September for crying out loud - less than two months before the end of the school calendar. Do you mean that we need to go back to square one? We have many other errands to run in school, you know.     
        
    The director of the Malaysian Examination Syndicate, Sufaat bin Tumin has a lot of explaining to do. Perhaps it is wise to stick with the original plan and put on hold any improvisations.

    Murphy’s Law states that if something can go wrong, it will. This whole episode will repeat itself next year, don’t you agree, Mr Director?