Monday, November 8, 2010

Isn't a B grade good enough?

In the blink of an eye, sec 1 is officially over for Lesley-Anne and she turned in very satisfactory results, in my opinion:

English & Literature: A1 (double weightage)
Higher Chinese: B3
Maths: A1
Science: A1
Geography & History: B3

We were especially pleased with her Chinese results. Having only taken Chinese as a 2nd language in primary school (and not being particularly adept at it), we were concerned over her transition to Higher Chinese. In the end, she not only managed to cope, she even attained a B3 grade for the year), which we thought was a great achievement.

You can therefore imagine my dismay when Lesley-Anne came home with a letter from the principal saying that she would need to sit for a preparatory test for Higher Chinese when school reopens in January because "she did not do well in the subject."

What??? They've got to be kidding, right? A 'B' grade for Higher Chinese, especially for someone who had not previously taken the subject, is considered unsatisfactory? I was miffed, to be honest. I felt that the school was setting the standard at an unnecessarily high level and putting additional pressure on the kids. I also found it difficult to believe that the vast minority of kids received an 'A' grade for Higher Chinese. Was Lesley-Anne's standard really so far behind other students in the school?

I made a call to a friend whose daughter is in the same school to find out if she knew anything. Well, the mystery was solved. According to her daughter, only students in the SBGE classes are subject to such preparatory tests. SBGE stands for School Based Gifted Education and it's an extension of the GEP programme in primary schools. Apparently for these classes, the kids are expected to maintain higher grades than the mainstream classes, so even a 'B' grade may not be acceptable (the preparatory tests are available for all subjects, by the way).

What I found particularly intriguing is that the schools continue to track and push the progress of the GEP kids even after they've left the programme in primary school. Is it so the school can lay claim to sterling results in national exams later? Or are they answerable to MOE for the continued performance of these kids?

I don't know and I find it odd that the parents were not briefed of this policy. I wouldn't have minded it so much if I was informed of the rationale and motivation behind such a practice. Definitely, the notice could have been written in a less draconian tone. (Parents were even asked to sign an acknowledgment form to make sure their kids study for the test. Ugh.) There was also no mention of the consequences should the child not pass the test, which is bound to create some anxiety.

It's a blip on an otherwise perfect record for the school in my books. Hopefully they can work on their diplomacy and transparency.


Yve said...

Hi Mon, Do they take just seven subjects in Secondary 1? Or are the other subjects non-examinable?

monlim said...

Yve: It's different for different schools. For L-A's school, they also have subjects like home econs, art, music, etc but they're non-examinable.

elan said...

Hi Mon,

I think they do continue to track them all the way to Uni and beyond. The SBGE is still accountable to MoE and I think you need to attain certain results (not sure what) to retain your GEPer status so you continue to get the GEP subsidy.

I'm equally impressed by LA's HCL results!
Well done!

monlim said...

Elan: Gosh, talk about Big Brother watching! It makes sense but I wish they could be more transparent over what constitutes "acceptable" results. Thanks for the clarification!

Anonymous said...

Congrats L-A! Fantastic results for year 1 in secondary.

Will I ever be so lucky as your mom I wonder (of course my child is not GEP material)? :)


Anonymous said...

Congratulations to L_A! She did very well!!


monlim said...

Thanks Chris!

QX: What are you talking about? You have a pretty special dd there yourself :)

Lilian said...

Outstanding results LA, well done! Aiyoh, I think at the start of the year, you would have been pleased even if she had come home with a pass in HCL, and she's surpassed this with a B3.

Like I said, just take it as MOE or the school trying to groom these kids lor...nothing but the best is expected, so they can say these bright sparks aren't just brilliant, they're also very effectively bilingual or trilingual!!

monlim said...

Thanks Lilian! Yalah, at the beginning of the year, I only worried whether she could pass HCL! Didn't realise my expectations were too low lol :P

Anonymous said...

heh heh Mon, yes my girl is special in being cartoon as you know. At least she makes me laugh. That is what I am assured of... LOL.


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