Include marks alongside grades for SPM


  • Education
  • Sunday, 05 Apr 2020

SPM candidates: Students sitting for their exams in Melaka. (File photo)

A BELATED congratulations to all Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) students for your success, particularly to the 21 Ipoh Methodist Girls’ School (MGS) students who scored straight As (Ipoh school’s girl power, StarEdu, Mar 15).

It seems that more students scored straight As in the SPM 2019 examinations than the year before.

Of the 389,498 students who sat for the examinations, 8,876 candidates scored A+, A and A- in all subjects, whereas 8,436 candidates scored straight As in 2018 (an improvement of 13%), according to the Education director-general Dr Habibah Abdul Rahim.

I suppose their success is attributed to the traditional streaming of students based on their performance in the Form Three Assessment (PT3) examination.

Had the Education Ministry abolished streaming based on merit, I doubt many high achieving schools would be able to produce so many straight A students.

I do not understand how it’s possible for so many students to score straight As, particularly for the English language.

Were the marks and grades adjusted based on national results?

Did the Malaysian Examination Council (MEC) use the bell curve to distribute the grades among the students?

The public should not be blamed for being ignorant of the marks received as only the grades are indicated on the result slip or certificates SPM candidates receive.

As a result, students themselves don’t know the marks they scored for each of the As, or how many marks they had missed to get the perfect score. They can’t compare their result with past years’ students who also achieved similar grades.

Universities and colleges will also be in the dark about the quality of students who scored As in SPM 2019 compared to those of the previous years.

In the Cambridge Assessment Certificates (CAE), there are grade descriptions such as pass with

distinction, pass with merit pass and fail based on the overall marks or score recorded on the certificates.

Grade descriptions are also used for Level Three, Level Four and Level Five.

Results are graded as Grade A, Grade B and Grade C based on the marks the candidates achieved as shown on certificates.

The MEC should be more transparent. Indicate the marks beside the grades to resolve this long-standing problem.There is no financial cost and effort involved, and surely it does not impinge on the Official Secrets Act 1972.

Putting marks beside the grades should not be difficult for the MEC since they have been doing it for the MUET exams for more than two decades.

It is aligned with the universities’ standard grade descriptors like the Grade Point Average and the Weighted Average Marks.

Unless it is done, especially for SPM English, there is no commonality or uniformity between the SPM and MUET grading systems.

It makes sense to indicate the marks alongside the grades for all the subjects in the SPM result slips.

It will give a more precise representation of the academic performance instead of just the grades alone.

To avoid manipulation, the MEC must also ensure that the calibration of marks to grades is consistent.

Unless this is put in place, the public will continue to be confused by what the straight As really mean.

THOMAS KOK

Ipoh


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