Saturday March 23, 2013
Upgrade SPM English grading
I REFER to “More SPM students score straight A’s (The Star, March 22).
It appears that our students are getting smarter year by year as evidenced by the recent SPM results.
A total of 15,793 students scored straight A’s in the SPM examination last year, an increase of 0.13% when compared to the previous year’s results.
Congratulations to the high achievers – you have indeed made not only your parents and teachers proud but also all Malaysians.
And it is heartening to note that the Deputy Prime Minister/Education Minister will study the SPM results with the aim of further improving the education system.
In retrospect, since a couple of years ago, the grading of SPM subjects have been amended to include plus (+) or minus (-) to each grade. For example, grade A can be categorised into A+, A and A-.
Hence, this grading system differentiates the three categories of A’s, which is very useful for scholarship applications and admission to colleges and universities and employment.
I would like to make some suggestions, especially for the grading of the SPM English subject.
With the existing grading system, it is a bit confusing because it is still difficult to make a comparison between students who obtain A+ now with students who got a similar grade in previous years.
There should be marks given alongside the grades so that everyone knows what the grades distinctly represent.
With this in place, we will even know the different achievement scores of students who obtain a similar grade like A+.
Apart from this, there ought to be notes to explain the level of language proficiency of the respective grades, like what is done for the Malaysian University Entrance Test (MUET).
The MUET offers a fairly reliable overall measure of English language competence with its six Band score instrument. Band 4, for example, represents students with a competent level of English.
SPM grade A in English is supposed to represent distinction or excellent proficiency in English.
Sadly, in our present scenario there are grade A students who cannot string a sentence together, let alone communicate in standard English.
In addition, the students in particular and the public in general, should also know from the grades their levels of English proficiency: very advanced, advanced, upper intermediate, intermediate, lower intermediate, elementary or beginner.
Alternatively, the Malaysian Examination Council should consider making the SPM English grades equivalent to the grades of the different levels of the University of Cambridge English for Speakers Of Other Languages examinations and the Association of English Language Testers in Europe.
Consequently, the SPM English grades will be more meaningful and helpful to the students who apply for further education locally or overseas, and naturally the colleges, universities and employers will know exactly what the respective grades in SPM English mean in terms of English proficiency.