On 5 Mar, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung announced that a new common national examination and certificate framework would replace the current N- and O-Level examinations.
As announced in the Parliament, the O-Level and N-Level examinations will be combined into one common national, and the streaming in secondary schools will be replaced by subject-based banding (SBB). The framework will kick in fully in 2024, where the first full batch of Secondary one students will be banded according to subjects.
Currently, students are streamed into Express, Normal (Academic) or Normal (Technical) based on their PSLE results. With the new system in place, students will take subjects at different levels according to their abilities.
Under the new system, there will be three different levels for each subject – General 1 (G1), General 2 (G2), General 3 (G3). G1 will roughly correspond to N(T) standard, G2 to N(A) standard, and G3 to Express standard. As such, this will allow the lower secondary students to study more subject at a higher level as well.
Starting next year, 25 pilot secondary schools will implement the new system, with more schools joining in the subsequent years.
Despite the success in reducing school attrition rates, Mr. Ong noted the downsides of streaming. “Entering a stream that is considered ‘lower’ can carry a certain stigma or be self-limiting,” he said. “Students can develop a mindset where they tell themselves, ‘I am only a Normal stream student, so this is as good as I can be.’ It becomes self-filling.”
To better ascertain the suitable level for students, MOE and schools will develop guidelines and assessment mechanisms on top of their PSLE results.
Students will receive a single national certification, co-branded by Singapore and Cambridge after they sit for the common national examination. On the certificate, it will reflect the level at which each subject is taken.
The new system would “give the school an opportunity to reshape the social environment to benefit their students,” Mr. Ong said citing Boon Lay Secondary’s initiative in organizing form classes by Co-Curricular Activities, hence, effectively merging students from all three streams.
With full SBB implemented, “We will no longer have fishes swimming down three separate streams, but one broad river, with each fish negotiating its own journey.” Mr. Ong concluded.
Waaaa, good leh like that. No more ‘O’ Levels and ‘N’ Levels. But true also la, students will do better in this way, cause students have uneven strength for different subjects. Thoughts?