150 Punggol Secondary students have to retake editing section of mid-year paper
By Kezia Toh
ABOUT 150 students in Punggol Secondary School had to retake a section of their mid-year English test yesterday after some scripts went missing.
All the students from the four Secondary 1 Express classes resat the editing component of the exam which they had first attempted on April 27.
School principal Benedict Keh said that after the exam scripts were collected, they were taken to a holding room.
Teachers who want to get hold of the scripts for marking have to sign for them. They can also take the scripts home.
In the process, the editing component may have been separated from the other sections of the English exam and got misplaced, said Mr Keh.
About 80 scripts of the editing section were reported missing on April 27.
Investigations within the school are ongoing, said Mr Keh, and the matter has been reported to the Ministry of Education.
An ongoing review of examination procedures is also being conducted to ensure that such an incident does not occur again, he added.
'This was a lapse in the exam processes and we are looking into tightening the overall exam procedures,' he added.
In the interest of fairness, he said all the four Secondary 1 Express classes had to retake the section.
The editing component is an add-on to the secondary school exams.
In this new component of Paper 1, students have to spot and correct grammatical errors in a short piece of written text.
This is part of a renewed emphasis on boosting proficiency in grammar and spoken English.
Students typically spend no more than 10 minutes on this part of the paper which accounts for 5 per cent of the total marks.
The management of examinations varies from school to school but some take measures to keep the holding room area out of bounds, even to teachers.
At Ang Mo Kio Secondary School, for example, only the invigilators for the day are allowed in the holding room, which typically is the biggest conference room in the school, said principal Abdul Mannan.
To ensure students stay away, the area is also cordoned off with red-and-white tape.
'I would also advise teachers not to take the scripts home to mark because so many things can happen to the scripts when you take them on the bus or cab,' he added.
Punggol Secondary teachers called the parents of affected students last Friday and over the weekend to apologise.
The parents were informed that some scripts had been misplaced and that their children would have to retake the editing section yesterday.
Parents who spoke to The Straits Times were understanding but want the school to update them on the situation.
One parent, whose 13-year-old daughter's script was not among those which were misplaced, said she appreciated the efforts made by the teacher to call and apologise.
Since re-taking the component would just take about 10 minutes, it is not too much of an inconvenience, said the parent, who did not wish to be identified.
However, she is puzzled over how the scripts got misplaced, and is keen to get an explanation.
'I do wonder how a stack of papers - especially since these are important mid-year exam papers - could have completely disappeared from the school,' she said.
Another parent with a 13-year-old son in the affected batch, who wanted to be known only as Madam Lim, said: 'It is fine as mistakes do happen, so long as after the investigations, the school tells us the reason behind the lost scripts, instead of just letting it slide.'