Thursday, November 17

An Open-Letter To Parents After The 2016 UPSR Results


Dear parents,
As a government school teacher, I know that your children are worth more than a mere letter grade on a flimsy piece of paper. Like any kind of measurement tool, there are limitations to the generalizability of our exam results. The truth is our paper tests are only able to measure a very narrow aspect of your child’s overall intelligence. Usually, what is measured is their verbal linguistic intelligence (the ability to express oneself through language). There are plenty of other intelligences that are not measured or addressed by the UPSR.

Let’s not forget the influence of test-taking skills, like the consideration for what the examiner is looking for & the consideration of all 4 options of a multiple-choice before selecting the best one. Young children and test-takers with low language proficiency tend to lack these skills. This is why schools drill your children with model exam questions. Drilling is a tried and true method for the implicit acquisition and operational knowledge of test-taking skills.

Test-taking skills greatly modulate the results of an exam. Ever wondered why we have the curious phenomena of straight A students who are incapable of forming grammatical sentences in English or performing basic arithmetic in real-life situations? They have been perfectly trained to apply this knowledge in exam conditions, which does not naturally translate into being able to apply the same knowledge in real-life.

If exams are such poor measures of a person’s capabilities, is there a place for exams in our world?

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