“Not a competition” Singapore removes class ranking system to encourage learning

Singapore made a bold move in traditional educational system by removing students’ ranking or grades based on exams and performance in class.
“Not a competition” Singapore removes class ranking system to encourage learning

“Learning is not a competition,” Singapore’s Minister of Education Ong Ye Kung told the 1,700 Singaporean school leaders in a meeting, early this October.

The education minister made an announcement that starting next year, primary and secondary school report books will no longer contain a ranking system. Primary 1 and 2 pupils will also no longer be taking examinations.

Ong explained, “I know that ‘coming in first or second’, in class or level, has traditionally been a proud recognition of a student’s achievement. But removing these indicators is for a good reason, so that the child understands from young that learning is not a competition, but a self-discipline they need to master for life.”

Aside from the class ranking, the following indicators will also be removed from report cards:
  • Class and level mean
  • Minimum and maximum marks
  • Underlining and/or colouring of failing marks
  • Pass/fail for end-of-year result
  • Mean subject grades
  • Overall total marks
  • L1R5 (English plus five relevant subjects), L1R4 , EMB3 (English, maths, best three subjects) and EMB1 for lower secondary levels

Ong clarified that parents will continue to be informed of the progress of their school children during parent-teacher meetings. Teachers will also continue to track progress through discussions, homework and quizzes but will use other “qualitative descriptors”, instead of marks (fail/pass) and grades.

For older students in elementary and high school, grades will be rounded off to give a whole number “to reduce the focus on academic scores.”

Singapore students suffer from high levels of anxiety

A study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published last year, 2017 revealed findings that “Singapore students, known worldwide for academic excellence, also experience high levels of anxiety and have been exposed to bullying.”

In the study, Singapore students were compared to over 540,000 students from 72 countries. The study revealed that Singapore students’ “anxiety levels were significantly higher than the OECD average.”

For example, 66% of students across all OECD countries said they were worried about poor grades at school, but among Singapore students, it was 86%.

— Sally, The Summit Express

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