Primary Four Streaming Exercise
The Primary 4 Streaming Exercise was introduced in order to categorize pupils into different learning streams so as to allow pupils to learn at a suitable pace for them. Pupils who scored exceptionally well in the Streaming examinations would be able to opt for a stream that would be suitable for his fast-paced learning while pupils who do not do well for the examinations would be placed in a stream where learning takes place at a slower pace so as to accommodate each and every pupil’s different needs.
The P4 Streaming Exercise was revamped in 2004 by the Ministry of Education to allow all primary schools to have more flexibility in setting their own tests papers to assess pupils’ academic abilities and learning pace, and whether they are more suited to take their studies at a lower level.
Before the revamp that took place in 2004, upper primary pupils are streamed into 3 different academic streams, namely EM1, EM2 and EM3, of which EM1 is traditionally for the brightest while EM3 is for pupils who have difficulty coping with the normal curriculum and learning pace.
Each pupil at the end of 4 years of foundation education would take a series of tests for all the subjects, English Language, Mother Tongue Language, Mathematics and Science. The results of these tests would be used to determine the stream into which the pupil would be sorted into for his upper primary years. A pupil who scored well in these examinations would be able to opt for a higher stream, EM1, while average faring pupils would be sorted into EM2. Pupils who did not do well for these examinations would be channeled into EM3, where they would take up subjects at a lower level of study.
In the EM1 stream, all pupils in the stream would do Higher Mother Tongue (HMT) language in addition to their usual subjects, English, Mathematics, Mother Tongue and Science. The only difference between the EM1 stream and the EM2 stream is that of Higher Mother Tongue language.
In EM2 stream, pupils take the subjects English, Mathematics, Mother Tongue and Science. These subjects are offered at the same level of academic depth as that of those offered in EM1. EM2 pupils do not take up Higher Mother Tongue language and thus, offers four examinable subjects at the Primary School Leaving Examinations.
In EM3, pupils who are channeled to this stream would do Foundation English, Foundation Mathematics, Foundation Science and Basic Mother Tongue Language. At the end of their six primary education years, pupils in the EM3 stream would take a different Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) from their peers in the EM1 and EM2 streams. The subjects that are examinable for pupils in the EM3 stream are Foundation English, Foundation Mathematics and Basic Mother Tongue Language. Foundation Science would not be offered as an examinable subject in the Primary School Leaving Examinations.
The streaming examinations in all primary school would be similar in standard as the questions from the examinations would be taken from a centralized item bank from Ministry of Education. All questions in the streaming examinations must be taken from the national item bank that is kept in check by the Ministry of Education. Thus, primary schools do not have the liberty of setting their own questions. Teachers can only decide which question to use from the item bank.
As of 2004, the traditional Primary 4 Streaming Exercise has been revamped by the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Education has implemented significant changes to the exercise such that
The EM1 and EM2 streams would no longer exist, having been merged into a single stream. This merger has been implemented in line with Ministry of Education’s aim to grant more flexibility to primary schools. After this revamp of the streaming exercise, all primary schools are allowed to exercise their discretion in recommending pupils to take the Higher Mother Tongue language as a subject.
Pupils may opt to take Higher Mother Tongue by their own choice too. Parents, who feel that their child is academically-inclined and is capable of taking up Higher Mother Tongue language as an additional examinable subject at the Primary School Leaving Examinations, may apply for their child to take up Higher Mother Tongue by contacting his or her primary school directly.
In addition, all primary schools now have the flexibility of setting their own streaming test papers. The schedule of the streaming examinations is also up to the primary school to decide. Thus, primary schools may choose to schedule the streaming examinations to coincide with their school-based academic examinations so as to reduce the strain and pressure on the pupils.
Primary schools also have the liberty of setting their own questions for the streaming examinations now. It is no longer compulsory for primary schools to select questions from the national item database of the Ministry of Education. Thus, primary schools can now set their own questions, allowing for more space and creativity. Teachers can now set questions that would test more of the pupil’s application skills instead of purely knowledge-based skills. However, the item database is still maintained by the Ministry of Education and is still available for primary schools to select their questions from, should they decided to take up this option.
The Streaming Exercise still hold its worth as the fundamental rationale behind this streaming exercise is logical and sound. It aims to stream pupils according to their academic abilities so as to allow learning to take place according to the pupil’s different needs and pace. This is important as pupils would have to learn at a pace that is suitable for them personally to allow maximum effectiveness of education.