Introduction of School Based Assessment
Education is the foundation of a country. School-based assessment is a new policy venture in the highly centralised education system of Malaysia. The Malaysian education system, having gone through several different development eras, should be making adjustment according to changing demand. The Malaysian Government introduced SBA or its Malay acronym PBS (Pentaksiran Berasaskan Sekolah) as part of the National Transformation Programme to produce world-class human capital. Through this more holistic, integrated and balanced assessment (Malaysian Education Ministry, 2012), the ministry aims to achieve the aspiration of the National Philosophy of Education towards developing learners’ physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual abilities. It also aims to reduce exam-oriented learning among learners, evaluate learners’ learning progress and enhance teachers’ integrity in assessing, recording and reporting of learners’ learning (KPM, 2012).
The term “assessment” in the educational context is used interchangeably with “evaluation”, “educational measurement”, “testing”, and “examination” (Umar, 2005). However, it always concerns information on learning and learning acquisition, which is about whether and what people have learned. The purpose of assessment is constantly changing. Robertson (2005) suggests two ‘traditional’ reasons for assessment which are mainly for communicating results of student achievement which has been a key responsibility for teachers, and selecting and sorting students for entry into various programmes. Besides reporting and sorting student assessment can improve student learning, teacher effectiveness, and increase the levels of student engagement with the material (Marzano, 2000; McMillan, 2004; Shepard, 2000). Heady (2000) suggests assessment tools should be “able to demonstrate continuous improvement” and help students focus on their own learning while the measurement methods should be consistent, increase student understanding and give them opportunities to learn and reflect on their own learning outcomes.
When we comment on Education Blueprint, School-Based Assessment (SBA) System has become a hot topic. There has been an increasing criticism in the educational field on high stakes examinations of having harmful effect on student learning and should be reduced to minimum (Harlen & Crick 2003; Morrison & Tang 2002; Black 1998). Black & Wiliam (1998) indicate that formative assessment, if properly implemented in schools, is a powerful means to improve student learning. In the international scenarios, formative assessment has already been practised in schools in various western countries including Australia, Canada, Demark, England, Finland, Italy, New Zealand and Scotland (OECD 2005). In Hong Kong, the recent assessment reform policy has an aim to encourage the use of formative assessment in schools so as to improve students’ learning skills and to promote their life-long learning abilities (CDC 2001). Finland, for example, is well known for not having a central exam for the first nine years of education. Theirs are all school-based. Countries like New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong conduct more school-based assessments. Malaysia is a marriage between both, between the central examination system and the school-based assessment. It is the marriage of these two systems which will provide not only the ministry and schools with data and information about the students, but also the stakeholders the opportunity to see how their children develop over the years, and to act before it is too late. The approaches the ministry is looking at is to have both the central examinations and school-based examinations where we empower the school and teachers to carry out more assessment at the school level. Combining the assessment done at the school level with what is centrally done will give a more holistic image of that individual.
In Malaysia, the SBA process...
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