The major question as to whether Form Three students will be assessed at the end of the school year has finally been answered.
There has been much speculation and rumours on whether they would need to sit for a centralised examination as the Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) was abolished at the end of last year.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin finally put the matter to rest when he announced that Pentaksiran Tingkatan 3 (PT3 or Form 3 Assessment) would be THE test that would assess Form Three students from this year.
But the Education Ministry needs to get its act together. It needs to quickly come up with guidelines on how the new PT3 will work.
Needless to say, the annoucement has raised questions and since April is almost a week away, it is only fair that students and their parents are briefed on what to expect.
Student Wan* from a secondary school in Klang, Selangor, said students felt like “rats in an experiment” and hoped all will become clear soon.
“I am confused. How does PT3 work?” questioned another student Maria* from Johor Baru, Johor.
Muhyiddin who is also Education Minister, said that there would be not be a centralised examination for Form Three students as in previous years.
Instead, he said students would be assessed via written and oral tests for Bahasa Melayu and English.
Science, Mathematics, Islamic Studies, Living Skills, Arabic, Chinese, Tamil, Iban and Kadazanusun would be assessed via a written test while History and Geography would be assessed via assignments, practical tests, projects, field study and case studies.
Parent Sarah* said her daughter was nervous and was afraid her entry into Form Four might be affected.
Muhyiddin had said that students could use the PT3 results as well as psychometric tests for application into Form Four as well as fully-residential schools, religious secondary schools, Mara Junior Science College, technical secondary schools and vocational colleges.
Psychometric tests, he added, would ensure students are placed according to their interests and capability.
Education director-general Datuk Dr Khair Mohamad Yusof was reported to have said that PT3 was aimed at eliminating an exam-oriented assessment as well as to move towards a more holistic education.
Dr Khair explained that PMR had been replaced with PT3 and this meant students would receive a set of four result slips beginning from this year.
He said the development of teaching and learning would be in the school.
Dr Khair also said the results of PT3 would be given together with PBS, a psychometric assessment as well as a sports assessment.
He had said that the psychometric assessment would be able to tell if a student has an inclination towards science or research, while the sports assessment will take into account extra-curricular activities.
Explaining further on PT3, he said the set of questions for the exam will be picked by schools and would contain questions with a low, medium and high difficulty level in each set.
The questions, he added, would be from the Education Ministry’s Examinations Syndicate.
Muhyiddin had stressed that schools would administer, assess and score the assessments based on standardised guidelines prepared by the Examinations Syndicate.
Dr Khair explained that the PT3 results would be released after a verification was carried out by the examinations syndicate.
The examination time table would be drawn up by the schools and would be carried out between October and November, unlike PMR in the past, he added.
Dr Khair said the ministry would conduct training for all subject teachers in secondary schools nationwide from April to August to facilitate the implementation of the PT3 assessment.
Muhyiddin said schools could then choose these questions and use them when assessing the students via the written tests.
To ensure that PT3 standards were maintained, he said the syndicate would monitor schools to ensure they chose questions which reflected the levels of difficulty and not questions that were considered too easy.
Unlike in previous years when the ministry would announce the results of the PMR in November, Muhyiddin said it was up to the individual schools to decide when to release the results of the PT3.
He said the Examinations Syndicate and a team of outside assessors would moderate and verify the results before they were released.