I guess things are changing, and more than just one step at a time. Kudos to the Ministry of Education, Singapore!
Now the tough part will be changing the mindset of some (maybe many) parents and some (hopefully few) teachers.
To me, the biggest, boldest change is not the removal of the mid-year exams or weighted assessments.
It is the elimination of all the comparative data in the report book, like the average score and highest/ lowest score for each subject, and the rank of the student in the class and cohort.
The inclusion of that data I imagine was to help students and parents see how they measured against other students.
But to what end? Bragging rights? Walk of shame? It’s a zero sum game, every position up the rank you climb is at the expense of another student.
Removing these comparative indicators is a brilliant leap in the right direction,
- if we want our schools to be centres of collaborative learning, rather than hot-housed rat cages.
- if we want our students to measure themselves against their best efforts instead of resting on their laurels or giving up hope.
- if we want our teachers and principals to have the time, headspace and resources to develop students better in the arts, in sports, outdoor learning, community service, leadership and all the other vital skills and attitudes that are needed not just for the workplace of the future but the workplace of today.
So thank you, MOE, thank you Minister Ong Ye Kung.
Now the devil will be in the details of implementation.