Singapore Schools to Remove Class Rankings for Younger Students

Category: Education/Family

Listening

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. abolish / əˈbɑːlɪʃ / (v) – to remove or discontinue something, such as a rule, law, or system
    Example:

    The university will abolish its haircut policy starting next year, so students may style their hair however they want.


  2. self-discipline / ˌsɛlfˈdɪsəplən / (n) – the ability to control and train oneself to overcome weakness and achieve success
    Example:

    I lack self-discipline when it comes to exercise, so I need to have a trainer to motivate me.


  3. qualitative / ˈkwɑːləˌteɪtɪv / (adj) – relating to how good or bad the quality of something is
    Example:

    Instead of giving numerical scores, my art teachers provide qualitative feedback on our drawings.


  4. descriptor / dəˈskriptər / (n) – a word or an expression used to describe something
    Example:

    Works of younger students are graded with descriptors like good, poor, and excellent.


  5. delight / dɪˈlaɪt / (n) – a feeling of enjoyment
    Example:

    The children yelled in delight when they saw the chocolate cake.


Article

Read the text below.

Singapore will abolish class rankings among primary and secondary students by next year.


Singapore’s Ministry of Education (MOE) declared last September that in 2019, students’ academic position or rank in class will be taken out of their report cards. The change was done to make pupils focus on their own progress rather than comparing themselves to their peers.


According to Singapore Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, the move aims to make children understand that learning is not a competition. Instead, they should see it as self-discipline.


In addition to having no information on rankings, report cards will also no longer highlight failing marks or say whether students pass or fail at the end of the school term.


Following the change, schools will evaluate Primary 1 and 2 students, who are around six to eight years old, using qualitative descriptors. Meanwhile, students in higher levels will be given grades rounded off to whole numbers. These are meant to prevent students from focusing too much on numerical scores.


The initiative is the MOE’s latest move in improving Singaporean students’ view of learning. Last year, the MOE had also made changes to scoring systems to increase students’ delight in learning and to lessen the stress that students experience.


These changes are in response to a study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation Development (OECD), which found that 86% of Singaporean students were worried about getting poor grades in school. This percentage is higher compared to the number of students from other countries who felt anxious about their grades.


Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you agree with the MOE’s move to abolish class rankings? Why or why not?

• How do you think the removal of class rankings will affect students’ performance? Discuss.


Discussion B

• Instead of giving scores or grades, what are other ways to evaluate students’ performance (e.g. personal feedback, peer evaluation)? Discuss.

• Aside from removing class rankings, how else can schools encourage students to appreciate learning more (e.g. having reward programs, making interesting lessons)?