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Centralised P4 streaming exam scrapped, EM1 & EM2 merge



Excerpt of speech by Education Minister in Parliament on 18 Mar 2004

"...MOE has therefore decided to remove the distinction between EM1 and EM2 in primary schools.  Schools will decide on how to band their pupils, in ways that add the most educational value. They will be given the flexibility to organise the students in this broader programme according to their own criteria.

"I expect many schools may retain the present system of organising students according to their overall P4 results. Some schools may decide to band students according to their language strengths - EL and MTL respectively - for special attention.

"The arrangements will vary depending on the type of students in a school and how widely they vary in abilities. How the students should be banded should be best left to the schools.

"We are able to combine EM1 and EM2 because they follow essentially the same course of study.  There will be no change at the primary-level to the Gifted Education Programme, which provides a different curriculum and teaching methods for exceptionally bright students.

"EM3 will also remain a distinct course, focusing on foundational knowledge, for all the reasons given earlier.  Our weakest students benefit from being taught separately, using a different curriculum, classroom management techniques and teaching approach.

"We have also reviewed the current arrangements for the Primary 4 examinations, which currently serve as a streaming examination. With the merging of EM1 and EM2, we will give schools greater discretion in how they assess their pupils in P4.

"Schools currently recommend a studentís stream in Primary 5 based on a studentís semestral assessments and an end-of-year examination at Primary 4.  Schools select questions from a national item bank maintained by MOE, but are responsible for marking and grading their students. It is in essence, already, a school-based examination, but operating within a common MOE framework.

"With the removal of the distinction between the EM1 and EM2 streams, we will give schools the flexibility to use their own assessments of studentsí performance to identify students who are capable of studying HMTL in Primary 5.  They would do likewise in identifying students who should be recommended to take the EM3 course.

"The P4 examinations would therefore be like any other school-based examinations.  Schools can develop their own assessment items, or choose to select questions from the national item bank that MOE will maintain.  They can also schedule their exams later in the year, instead of in October currently, along with the school-based exams for other levels.

"Schools will be given the flexibility to develop their own end-of-year P4 examinations from this year.  MOE will work with primary schools to ensure smooth implementation of these changes..."

Ministry of Education Press Release 18 March 2004





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19 March 2004