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School-Based Assessment system implemented despite reservations

QUICK TAKE: The School-Based Assessment (SBA) which was temporarily halted for review was implemented at all secondary schools nationwide on April 1 although certain issues raised by its detractors have yet to be addressed.

One area of concern yet to be resolved is the high number of students in a class which might render the system ineffective.

Suara Guru Masyarakat Malaysia (SGMM) chief Mohd Nor Izzat Johari maintained that while there are improvements in the revised SBA system, it should not be implemented before a pilot study is conducted for a minimum of three years.

“In the process of implementing the PBS (SBA) system, teachers have been unable to provide their students with full attention due to congestion in the classrooms.

“There are too many students in a class. The number could be between 40 and 50 students (and) apart from that, the students were not exposed to any examinations since the SBA was implemented,” Mohd Nor Izzat said in a statement on March 31.

theantdaily is awaiting response from the Education Ministry on issues surrounding a smaller classroom size but a similar proposal to address the problem of overcrowding in schools has been included in the National Education Blueprint (NEB) 2013-2025 under “Wave 1”, which is for implementation from 2013 to 2015.

The NEB report stated that these measures include building extra classrooms, deploying additional teachers and/or tightening enforcement of enrolment quotas.

Among issues which were looked into were complaints from teachers that they were “overburdened” with the need to input all assessment data into a computerised digital system on a daily basis and this was addressed through reverting to a manual method of record keeping.

While the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) as the largest body representing teachers in Malaysia has expressed its support for improvements to the SBA system, there were other groups which disagreed, including SGMM and Parents Action Group for Education (Page).

Mohd Nor Izzat, who had on Feb 22 led a protest against the SBA system in Putrajaya, was served with an immediate notice of transfer from his current school in Jerantut to another rural school (also in Pahang) allegedly due to his criticisms of the system.

This is despite SGMM’s participation in a dialogue session with the Education Ministry last December and the subsequent review to the system, announced on March 19, which took into account some of their concerns.

Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who announced the review on March 18, said the changes were expected to reduce teachers’ burden by about 80 per cent by reverting to the manual mode of record keeping.

He also confirmed that all Form 3 students would be sitting for the Form 3 Assessment (PT3) system this year based on the revised SBA, instead of the Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) examination.

“Under PT3, schools will be given the flexibility to administer, assess and award the scores according to the standardised scoring guidelines set by the Examinations Board,” Muhyiddin, who is also deputy prime minister, reportedly said.

Under the PT3 system, Bahasa Malaysia and English would be assessed through written and oral tests, while Science, Mathematics, Islamic Studies, Living Skills, Arabic, Chinese, Tamil, Iban and Kadazandusun language subjects would be assessed by writing.

History and Geography, meanwhile, would be assessed using assignments, practical tests, projects, field studies and case studies.

theantdaily had on March 30 reported the views of Canadian educationist James Leonard who argued that one of the necessary factors for the success of a school- based assessment system, as practised in Canada, is a smaller classroom size.

This, Leonard said, allowed teachers the opportunity to plan more “meaningful activities” and provide students with a clear expectation of how to achieve a certain standard of proficiency in the subjects being taught.

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