Poor UPSR results: PAGE says teachers left in the dark

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PETALING JAYA: The Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) has blamed the poor UPSR results for 2016 on the lack of clear communications between the education ministry and the Examination Syndicate.

PAGE chairman Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said the teachers were left in the dark as to how to fully help the primary school system’s transition from the KBSR (Kurikulum Baru Sekolah Rendah) syllabus to KSSR (Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Rendah).

She said this lack of coordination and understanding was reflected in this year’s UPSR results, which saw only 4,896 pupils scoring straight A’s — which represents 1.11% of the 452,721 pupils who sat for the exam this year.

In contrast, 38,344 pupils secured all A’s under the previous format in 2015.

“A ‘black hole’ seems to exist in the process of transitioning from KBSR to KSSR,” Noor Azimah told FMT.

“This was the first cohort of KSSR which began in 2011, starting with Primary One. While this happens everytime there is a a change in syllabus, this time it was abnormally chaotic.”

Noor Azimah levelled blame at the unclear working relationship between the education ministry and the exam syndicate that left teachers unsure as to what was expected of them.

“Teachers felt they were being left in the dark and shortchanged. Instructions were a blur.

“They felt there was little co-operation among departments that appeared to work in silos.

“It was only after the results were announced that teachers discovered what constitutes an A or a B, and whether a D or an E is a fail.”

Noor Azimah said official information should have been made clearer and shared to keep teachers fully informed.

“Grey areas existed.

“The lesson to be learnt here, and not to be repeated, is that teachers need to know what is expected of them.

“With clear benchmarks and marking/grading systems in mind, teachers will be able to help parents understand how students can apply the knowledge gained and therefore obtain marks accordingly.”

Despite the disappointing UPSR results, Noor Azimah remained supportive of the KSSR syllabus.

She said parents also remained supportive of the new approach that adopts more critical thinking and problem-solving questions, labelled “higher order thinking skills” (HOTS).

This, she said, was due to the nation’s “disastrous performance” in the TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) and PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment), as reported in the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025.

“While our children used to take home millions of A’s every year, globally, we were unashamedly among the bottom third of the spectrum, even below Vietnam.

“We vowed that by 2025 we will be in the top third bracket among participating countries.

“But drastic steps had to be taken. This meant adopting over time the hows and whys.

“‘How’ and ‘why’ questions require thinking which can be difficult.

“But if done often and soon enough, the practice will benefit students in the long run,” Noor Azimah said.

However, she expressed her worry that the disastrous UPSR results this year would be reflected in the coming SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia) results due in March.

Noor Azimah noted that students now sitting for SPM are those who sat for PT3 (Pentaksiran Tingkatan 3), which saw a similar disastrous pattern two years ago.

“More crucial is the fact that the SPM results are an extremely important assessment that will determine the students’ next course of action.

“This can take the form of a prestigious and life-changing overseas scholarship on one hand or the failure to pursue tertiary education, with only 24% succeeding in doing so (before this),” Noor Azimah said.