- Published on Monday, 20 October 2014 08:43
THE first batch of 453,413 form three students including private candidates has completed the very first Pentaksiran Tingkatan 3 (PT3) or Form Three Assessment last week.
It ended with written examinations which were scheduled from October 12 to 17. The written tests are the final phase of the PT3 exams. The other two phases were case studies and oral tests which were conducted in July and August.
PT3 is a lower secondary school examination that replaces PMR (Penilaian Menengah Rendah). It has the same scope as PMR before, by using summative assessment to evaluate students overall intellectual ability at lower secondary level.
The general difference between PT3 and PMR was explained by the Malaysian Examination Board in a statement which said that unlike the PMR exam, the PT3 examination papers were prepared by the respective secondary schools with the responsibility in the hands of the school heads.
However, the Malaysian Examination Board and state education department will be the moderator to ensure the candidates validity and reliability scores. In some districts, the questions are prepared by the District Education Office (PPD) in which they provided different sets of examination questions for different schools. It is not like the previous centralized examination system.
Another difference is in term of the assessment tools. For instance, the oral examination for language subjects is upgraded to ensure that the candidates can master both the written and oral tests. The most significant difference in the PT3 is the use of multiple assessment tools for Geography and History subjects, most notably the introduction of case study mainly to make sure that the students will be able to acquire technical skills and grasp the knowledge along with the values.
How ‘Success’ Is Measured at School Level All This While
The commonly held belief among Malaysian parents, teachers and students all this while is that ‘success’ is measured only by the number of As in one's scores in any public examination. This focus on only the final examination has defined our entire educational system and programmed the way the candidates have approached public examinations all these years. In an effort to move beyond the exam-oriented system, the PBS (Pentaksiran Berasaskan Sekolah) or School-Based Assessments was introduced.
For PT3, students will receive a set of four result slips which are the PT3 result, the School-Based Assessment (PBS), a psychometric assessment and a sports assessment. Schools will then decide, based on all four assessments, which stream a student is best suited for, thus helping parents and students make a more informed decision on the selection of streams. So, it is quite safe to say that if the students did not perform well in the written exams, we can evaluate them and see their potential based on other areas of the assessment, especially in deciding which stream and school are suitable for them in Form 4.
As Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said before, PT3 will be used as the basis to determine the entry of students into Form 4 whether in Fully Residential Schools, Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Agama, Mara Junior Science Colleges (MRSM) including Sekolah Menengah Teknik (SMT) and Vocational Colleges.
By making the entire assessment system less exam-oriented, the primary aim was to reduce the students’ over-dependency on examination grades to gauge their final performance.
Clearly, it is a move towards a more holistic education development because both academic and non-academic performances of the students are taken into account and it takes the pressure and insecurity off the students in facing examinations.
So, the intention of PT3 is to reduce the stress of final examinations faced by students all these years but the initial implementation has actually triggered strong reactions, not all of them positive.
Mixed Feelings And Confusion Abound
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak posted through his Facebook account on July 1 that the new assessment system was designed to nurture “world class, all-rounders”. PT3 assessments officially started in all national schools in July of this year.
Furthermore, it will enable teachers to identify their students' weaknesses in any subjects earlier (because of the phases before the written examinations) and help them improve as mentioned by TPM, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
Right from the start, concerned educationists expressed their reservations while many teachers and students faced confusion and uncertainly. Many feel that PT3 is open to bias and abuse, unlike PMR which is produced, administered and graded by an independent body outside the school which is the examination board, said an education activist, Mohd Noor Izzat Mohd Johari. This is because for PT3, only the questions are produced by the board while the administering and grading will be done by the teachers of each individual school.
Serdang MP, Ong Kian Ming said PT3 could create bias as teachers are given free rein to decide what is deemed as good performance. He also mentioned about the lack of preparation because the implementation is quite sudden.
“But PT3 (Form 3 Assessment) was only announced and confirmed in March 31, 2014, leaving very little time to brief the 63,000 Form 3 teachers in 2,376 secondary schools as well as the students and parents about this change,” he said.
Another complainant, Afiq Omar who is a teacher himself stressed out that the students were simply not ready.
“I’m one of the teachers to handle this PT3. The students need to have a high level of thinking. Most of them were shocked because they never done such things before. Seventy per cent of them were lost,” he said.
The inaugural PT3 is finally done. Is it better?
The first edition of PT3 just finished last Friday. Here we provide some of the reactions and comments on PT3 from teachers.
A 52-year-old teacher from Johor said that the implementation of PT3 creates confusion from the start. She observed that PT3 had created anxieties among teachers and students at her school.
“Earlier, they wanted to abolished the exam-oriented PMR evaluation and measure the students’ performances only through school-based assessments. However, written exams are also included in the implementation,” she said to MalaysianDigest.
She explained that it became double-trouble to the teachers as they had to do multiple tasks because of the different phases of evaluation involved.
“The teachers moaned during the early phases (oral examinations and case studies), and also they need to mark the written examination papers at the moment just like final year exam papers before.”
Unlike PMR which the questions, the administering and grading are done by the board, the teachers and the school need to do all those things by themselves guided by the boards’ instruction.
“However, in my district, the PPD provides different sets of questions for different schools.”
On the other hand, she said that teachers acknowledged that the new system is clearly more effective as it will more accurately reflect the students overall performance during the three secondary school years.
“It will create balance. The results will not only reflect their academic performance. However, the teachers will need to work a lot harder.”
She also added that, it will be tough for teachers who are managing large classes.
“In my school, it is not a big problem since the average class size is 30 students. But for schools that have around 40 or more students per class, it will be a really tough job.”
Because of that, the Science and IT teacher said that teachers might tend to take the marking and evaluation for granted because they do not have enough time. Then, the questions of validity and reliability of the marking scheme and evaluation will be raised again.
An Islamic Education teacher from Perak simply described PT3 as tough for both students and teachers.
“PT3 is really hard. Both students and teachers faced a tough time.”
For the written exam that concluded last week, she said that PT3 is definitely harder than PMR because PT3 has higher order thinking skills questions or KBAT (Kemahiran Berfikir Asas Tinggi).
She further added that the teachers were worried from the start that they would not be able to cope with the new system as it was only announced on March 31 and implemented on July 1.
“I think we should be given more time for training and briefings, especially on the procedures, in order to get used to the system,” she said
She also mentioned that at the moment, she could not state any benefits of PT3 so far because it is a new thing and this is only the first year of the implementation.
“For sure, we definitely need more time to adjust to the new system.”
Education reform is never easy, but we must start somewhere
Would it have been better to conduct a pilot study for a couple of years first? Was more time needed to prepare the teachers and students? Many felt timing was the problem because they needed to familiarize themselves and this year can be considered as a transition period for PT3.
Generally, teachers expressed their support for the new system and foresee more benefits once the teething problems are sorted. Teachers need to fully comprehend and cope themselves first and then it will be easier for the school to apply it to the next batch of candidates.