Saturday, February 6, 2021

Academics say UPSR, PT3 exams no longer needed to gauge students

They say the exams merely emphasise the 3R's of reception, retention and recollection without sharpening students' thinking and communication skills.

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An academic has called for the abolition of two government examinations which were cancelled last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, saying they are no longer useful in the development of critical skills.

Prof Mohd Fadzil Abdul Rahman of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) said the Primary School Achievement Test (UPSR) for Year Six students and the Form Three Assessment (PT3) have only emphasised the 3R’s – reception, retention and recollection – without helping students sharpen their thinking and communication skills.

“That makes it easy for the student to pass or score As in the examination,” Fadzil, who heads Unimas’ Leadership Centre, told MalaysiaNow.

Following the spread of Covid-19 which forced disruptions to lessons last year, the education ministry made the unprecedented move to cancel several public examinations, long viewed as key events in students’ schooling life.

Fadzil said it was unfortunate that UPSR and PT3 had been used as benchmarks in not only the performance of students in the form of the number of As scored, but also in the evaluation of schools and their rankings.

He said the education ministry’s decision to call off UPSR and PT3 while allowing students to continue to the next grades this year showed that the examinations could be done away with.

“The downside of this is that students do not learn to understand, but resort to memorisation to get good marks.”

“But we waited until the situation became critical to make the decision,” he added.

It is a view shared by the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP), the biggest group representing schoolteachers nationwide, who likewise disagree with the use of UPSR and PT3 to evaluate student performance.

“Instead, they should be attaining skills,” NUTP secretary-general Harry Tan Huat Hock told MalaysiaNow.

An education pressure group meanwhile said the UPSR and PT3 examinations are no longer relevant following the implementation of School-Based Assessments (PBS) which are not exam-oriented.

The Parent Action Group for Education, or PAGE, said the PBS had allowed teachers to employ other methods to evaluate students.

On the other hand, PAGE chairman Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said the examination system is about standardised testing where students and schools are subjected to a uniform set of measuring tools.

“The downside of this is that students do not learn to understand, but resort to memorisation to get good marks,” she told MalaysiaNow.

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