This year, Academia took in a large number of new students in the first quarter of the year, representing almost 30% of our total student population at its peak. Many of these students came to us because they were performing weakly and/or dissatisfied with their results after being at other centres for the large part of their Primary school career. Despite this large influx, we managed to increase our A*/A rate for PSLE from 94% in 2016 to 96% in 2017, converting almost all of B and C grades at the start of the year into solid A grades and pushing many of the A grades to an A*. Furthermore, we achieved even higher levels of peak performance with the non-PSLE cohort, i.e. the P1 to P5 levels.
In absolute terms, more students achieved A* this year compared to last year. As a percentage of the total cohort, our percentage of A* appeared to dip slightly from last year due to the large volume of new P6 students accepted this year. Academia’s admissions policy is to accept all students without prior screening to filter out weak students, which can skew the data towards higher overall grades. Indeed our philosophy is that we have designed our curriculum and teaching pedagogy to push students at all levels up the learning curve at a pace that maximises their rate of learning while generating deep interest in the subject. Therefore, we began 2017 with a larger proportion of our PSLE cohort achieving B grades or lower in P5.
The data also suggests that the vast majority of the students who achieved A* this year have been with us for at least 2 years, allowing us to build their foundation consistently and do a final push in their last year. In contrast, more than 80% of students who joined us at the end of P5 or the start of P6 were able to improve by at least one letter grade (from A to A* or B to A), but less likely to move up by two letter grades. This is both logical and intuitive, given that (we strongly believe) proficiency in English is a life skill that can only be developed and honed over years, rather than months.
If there is a recommendation to be gleaned from this analysis, it would be that the best outcomes occur with students who have been with us from an earlier age, ensuring that we can work consistently in a stable and rigorous training environment towards that A* for the PSLE. There is a certain flow and rhythm to your child’s English language development; often we find that the hardest part is undoing the mistakes that other less-rigorous or mass-market centres have made in a student’s formative years.
PRIMARY LEVEL PERFORMANCE
This year, we gave out a grand total of 87 Academia Award Badges to recognise the achievements of our P1 to P5 pupils. The awards were given out extremely selectively and only to students who achieved at least one of the following:
① Topping their entire school cohort for English
② Topping their class for English
③ Achieving significant improvement in their English score by at least 1 letter grade or band
④ Sustaining already-high achievement levels from the previous year (2016)
⑤ Getting through at least the first round of the GEP selection examination and/or entrance into the GEP or similar programme e.g. META, THOBURN
We suggest that the high number of awards reflect the strong performance of our Primary school students as a whole, as well as the potential for greater transformation at an earlier age.
Other interesting points of analysis revealed some surprises: for instance, we noted that a significant minority (approximately 13%) of pupils lost 3 – 4 marks in Listening Comprehension. In contrast, a majority of students (more than 70%) performed extremely well for Comprehension and Composition, both capstone components which we have weighted heavily in our curriculum this year. We will take this information into account when developing our curriculum next year, weighing up the opportunity costs of running more of certain components against the potential benefits.
TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
This year, we have come to realise that there has been an intensifying trend across the tuition and enrichment industry in favour of vague marketing statements, grandstanding and – we feel – rather improbable statistics and claims.
All we can say in response is that at Academia, we promise to be transparent and accountable. This is why we publish the data we collect and analyse.
Furthermore, we will continue to stick to our policy of not using our star students as marketing material, despite having accumulated plenty of wonderful success stories this year, as we have always believed it to be an exploitative practice. It is to the child’s credit that he or she performs well in an examination, and we do not want to bask in their limelight.
For us, the data speaks for itself.
We would like to thank our clients for placing their trust in us. For parents who have seen significant improvements in your child’s performance, rest assured that we will continue to support your child for the road ahead. Most importantly, we hope you will continue to trust us and know that we are here to support your child, every step of the way.