A Mathematics and Science teacher from Seremban said her students were “disappointed” with the Science paper as the questions were “too easy.”Apparently, even the average and weaker students found the paper easy and not challenging. One of the teachers interviewed was even harsher with her comments, claiming that “Science was easy and English was closer to the UPSR exam”.
“One of my students commented that had he known the questions were to be that easy, he would not have studied so hard! They were disappointed that the paper was not a challenge”.
Is it just a one-off? Or is it representing another decline in standards in the Malaysian examinations? The immediate speculation that comes to mind is the fact that this was the first year whereby Mathematics and Science examinations are conducted in English (though not yet 100%, as Malay translations are still available) - is the lowering of standards meant to coincide with this so that students will fare "better"? This was similarly speculated by one of the teachers interviewed.
“I do not know if it has anything to do with the fact that this year’s candidates were the first to study Maths and Science in English. But the standard of most of the papers was much lower than Form Three level.What lends credence to this speculation is the fact that just one month ago, the Ministry of Education released the results of the July trial PMR examinations conducted for Mathematics and Science in English which was apparently very poor. The New Straits Times reported on the 16th September that "Form Three teachers who have been teaching Science and Mathematics in English since January are a worried lot."
In a subsequent NST report, the Ministry of Education Director General, Datuk Ahamad Sipon said "the questions were designed to test students on their understanding of questions posed in English and Bahasa Malaysia, and Maths and Science terminology and their grasp of concepts, ideas and information presented in both languages."
Teachers were to have used the results of the "diagnostic assessment" test given to Form Three students in July to remedy weaknesses in the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English. He said the test was not meant to be a trial examination for the Penilaian Menengah Rendah and could not be used to assess students’ performance in the exam...The Malaysian Examination Syndicate director Dr Salleh Hassan, who has been under a little bit of pressure in the recent PMR examinations due to issues blogged here and here, naturally "begged to differ". The best way for our civil servants to answer some of the tough questions posed, is by apparently "answering without answering".
He said the level of difficulty was about the same for every examination – including this year's – so the syndicate could chart and compare students’ performance over the years.Errr... how does that convince the public that the PMR examination standards were not lower, I have absolutely no idea.
"Every examination has a combination of six levels of difficulty – understanding, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. Some questions will be difficult and some questions will be easier, depending on the level of testing."