Assessment reforms in Singapore

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Tan, Kelvin
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The education system in Singapore has been transformed since its independence from colonial British rule in 1965. Reforms have occurred in four distinct phases: the survival phase; the efficiency phase; the ability-driven phase, and currently its values-driven and student-centredness phase. Each phase of education has been supported and driven by corresponding assessment reform. In the past few years, there has been a distinct effort to shift assessment purposes and discourse away from high stakes testing for placement and stratification, towards using assessment to signal and support learning within and beyond schools. Three assessment reforms are examined in this chapter—the reduction in emphasis on examinations in primary schools in 2008, the shift away from norm-referenced assessment in the high stakes national examination for primary students (announced in 2016), and the changes to assessment and streaming in secondary schools announced in 2018. These reforms demonstrate the tight alignment between policymaking and school implementation and offer insights into the complexities in grappling with tensions between maintaining rigour and control in high stakes summative assessment against transparency of assessment standards for use in formative assessment in schools.
Tan, K. H. K. (2022). Assessment reforms in Singapore. In Y.-J. Lee (Ed.), Education in Singapore: People-making and nation-building (pp. 243-260). Springer.