SAG gives fairer assessment, says education minister

Azlan Othman

The School Assessed Grades (SAG) assessments, which will replace the traditional written examinations for Brunei Cambridge GCE ‘O’, ‘AS’, ‘A’ Levels and IGCSE session October/November this year, are fairer and more reflective of the students’ performances, said Minister of Education Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Hamzah bin Haji Sulaiman at the daily press conference yesterday.

The minister continued, “Grades are given based on a continuous assessment throughout the year, and the grades will allow them to further their studies. It also gives equal opportunities to students at Year 11 (sitting for Brunei Cambridge GCE ‘O Level) and Year 13 (sitting for ‘A’ Level) on quarantine order (QO) or tested positive for COVID-19.

“Some students may not be able to score good grades during the real examination due to health reasons.

“Continuous assessment is more effective in showing the true potential of a student compared to sitting for the end-of-the-year exam. Universities also conduct continuous assessment to grade their students, as well as students undertaking International Baccalaureate (IB).”

Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Hamzah said before implementing the SAG, discussions were carried out with school leaders as some were unclear about the new assessment method.

In a press release earlier, the Ministry of Education (MoE) stated that the SAG takes into account three tasks to display the students’ abilities.

The school will include a portfolio for each student containing three types of substantial work or major assignments for each subject. The substantial work is an evaluation of the students’ assignments throughout learning for the 2021 academic year.

These include completed examination question papers according to the subject syllabus with a duration of one hour or more, specific work completed according to the subject syllabus, combination of questions taken from previous examination papers, qualifying test question papers, and extended work projects given by the school as well as assignments given such as essays, assignments, problems, and practical.

The SAG covers students’ scores throughout 2021. It is an alternative assessment prepared by the Cambridge Assessment International Education (Cambridge International) for countries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic since 2020. The assessments are comparable to written examinations via face-to-face, said the MoE.

The minister said the SAG provides a challenge to the teachers in preparing the students’ assessments and in providing information to fill the students’ gaps. Matters on the SAG have been under the MoE’s radar since last year. More than half of the schools are ready for the SAG and ongoing assessments are also underway.

Some teachers have carried out assessments on past year papers and mock exam to collect evidence as requested by the Cambridge International for quality assurance, the minister said.