The “missing” factor in better SPM performance

I REFER to the report “Queries over SPM results” (The Star, June 15).

The national average grade went up to 4.80 in 2020 compared to 4.86 in 2019. Some groups are casting doubt over this better overall achievement, citing the difficulties students had faced, including missing many days in school and having to depend on online learning and PdPR (home-based teaching and learning), which was a new experience for them. Distance learning was also a totally new experience for many teachers.

That said, we must recognise the contribution of dedicated parents who provided guidance and advice to their children. This must have been a contributing factor to the “improved” results, too.

Nevertheless, I would like to put forward another reason for the better SPM 2020 results.

Over a large part of last year, we heard that students, especially those in rural and remote areas, were having difficulty following online lessons because of poor or no Internet connectivity. Many gave up on online schooling and went to help their parents, and some even sought temporary employment.

Teachers shared that when online lessons were conducted, as many as one-third of a class might be missing. Some of these students could have also decided to drop out of the SPM exam altogether!

According to the Malaysian Examination Syndicate (MES) report on the SPM 2020 results, the number of candidates registered for six or more subjects and had sat for at least one subject totalled 401,105.

The number of candidates who sat for BM (Malay Language) and Sejarah (History), two compulsory subjects, totalled 381,129 and 380,340 respectively. This indicates that some 20,000 candidates had not sat for these two subjects. These were the “missing” candidates.

With due respect, these “missing” candidates were likely to perform poorly had they sat for the exam. So, mathematically, with them not in the counting, would not the overall results have “improved” even though by a mere 0.06 points, or 1.23% as pointed out by MES?

Schools are prohibited from disallowing “academically poor” students to sit for public exams in order to boost their overall performance. This time, however, with the pandemic prevailing, schools were short-handed not only in dealing with students’ absence but also their sitting for exams. This may have led to “better” performance in the overall SPM 2020 results!



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