WITH reference to the letter published in the Borneo Bulletin’s Opinion column dated November 8, 2014 titled “Does BCAT really help our students?” written by Awang Haji Hussin, we would like to thank the writer for voicing his opinion and take the opportunity to clarify a few points for the benefit of parents with children in the year level concerned.
One of the major changes brought about by the SPN21 was on school curriculum and assessment. Assessment Tasks (BCATs) were first introduced in the year 2011. The BCATs were conceptualised as a school-based assessment for learning strategy with a two-fold goal, ie for the students to know where they are currently at in their learning, where they need to be and how to get there, while enabling the teacher to ascertain the effectiveness of their teaching and to modify it accordingly to achieve optimum results.
A student’s performance on the graded BCATs is reported to parents together with useful information on how they can help improve their child’s learning.
BCATs are totally based on the syllabus. They are designed to assess how well the students have achieved the learning outcomes stated in the syllabus and what has been taught and learnt in the classroom.
There is, therefore, no need for students to buy additional books or obtain support or even reference materials as teachers are expected to equip students with the necessary knowledge and skill to do BCATs in the course of their teaching.
The BCATs activities vary from one subject to another. They can be in a variety of assessment modes and are aimed at equipping students with the essential skills and attitudes needed to compete in an ever-demanding global market. Apart from academic achievement, students need to develop IT, communication, social and aesthetic skills.
Positive attitudes such as the ability to work collaboratively as a team, having mutual respect among group members and be sensitive to each other’s feelings are just as important.
Students who lack team spirit, social and communicative skills and creativity may not adapt well in the working world.
Assessment for learning goes beyond the mastery of basic skills to help prepare students for the current and higher levels of education by focusing on not just ‘what’ the students are learning but also ‘how’ they are learning it; promoting student understanding of learning goals and the criteria by which they are assessed; providing information and guidance that help learners to identify next steps; recognising a wider range of educational effort and achievement, thus motivating all students to do their best.
In view of the above emphases, the Ministry of Education finds it prudent to include 30-40 per cent (depending on the nature of the subject) of students’ attainment in the BCATs in the overall Student Progress Assessment (SPA) grades for Year 7 and 8. This makes the SPA more holistic in nature.
Beyond Year 8, a highly capable student will be channeled into the express stream. However, doing ‘O’ level is not the only path to academic success as the SPN21 structure provides multiple pathways to cater to students’ needs, capabilities, interest, inclination, growth and development through the General Secondary Education, Applied Secondary education, Specialised Educational needs programmes.
For further details and inquiries, contact the Curriculum Development Department, Ministry of Education, Brunei Darussalam at 2384333 (ext 1450).
– Ministry of Education