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Friday, February 14, 2020

CEFR Parallel Assessments in PT3, UPSR and SPM

Last year (2019), PT3 students received grading on their English language proficiency using CEFR standards. Many parents were confused because they did not know about the adoption of CEFR in Malaysia. They also did not understand the grading under CEFR.

What is CEFR and Adoption of CEFR in Malaysia

CEFR is the Common European Framework for Languages. It is an international standard for describing language ability and is used in many countries. CEFR is widely accepted by many countries as an international framework for language teaching, learning and assessment.

Malaysia adopted CEFR under the Malaysia Education Blueprint (2013 - 2025) and Roadmap for English Language Education Reform (2015 - 2025).

With a common framework ie the CEFR,  teachers or learners, employers and educational institutions can see and compare the level of English qualifications of one learner with another. A learner who receives the same grade under the CEFR is similarly qualified irrespective of which school or country they are from.

Implementation of CEFR- aligned curriculum for Malaysian schools
The CEFR-aligned curriculum for both SK and SJK is implemented in stages, beginning with Years l and 2 in 2018. Under this new curriculum, Listening and Speaking are treated as separate skills instead of combined as in the past, and all five language skills (Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing and Language Arts) are developed based on the CEFR. Phonics is covered separately.

The CEFR-aligned curriculum for Malaysian secondary schools is implemented in stages, beginning with Forms 1 and 2 in 2018. Under this new curriculum, Listening and Speaking are treated as separate skills instead of combined as in the past, and all four language skills (Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing) are developed based on the CEFR proficiency levels. Grammar (taught in Language Awareness lessons) and vocabulary are integrated in lessons focusing on the four skills as well as Literature in Action.

CEFR Grading

CEFR describes language ability on a six point scale, from A1 for beginners up to C2 for those who have mastered the language.

Pre-A1, A1, A2 = Basic User
B1, B2 = Independent User
C1, C2 = Proficient User

Go to this link to view the CEFR Global Scale with details of each level and what it means.

Parallel Assessments in PT3, UPSR and SPM

The first parallel assessment of Common European Framework of Reference For Language (CEFR) was implemented at the Form Three Assessment (PT3) examination level for the English Language paper in 2019. (Note that students need not sit for an extra exam paper. They are merely assessed twice for the same English paper they sat for.)

Parallel assessment of the English Language paper would be implemented for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) in 2021 and Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) in 2022.

"Although the highest grade was C2, equivalent to the proficiency of an English native speaker, PT3 questions were set at B1 level. SPM, would start with the new CEFR format in 2021 with the hope that students would have acquired at least the B1 level. UPSR would follow suit in 2022 with A2 set as the highest grade."  (Ref: First CEFR assessment via PT3 english paper)

Using CEFR aligned books

Parents and educators should use CEFR aligned books as teaching material to guide students and prepare them for their examinations. When buying specific English Language Teaching books, parents and teachers should look out for “CEFR-aligned curriculum”.


This post was brought to you by Oxford Fajar Malaysia. Oxford Fajar has a range of ELT (English Language Teaching) books that are CEFR aligned. Oxford Fajar is a subsidiary of Oxford University Press, the world's leading authority on the English Language. Every year more than 33 million students use Oxford materials to learn English.  


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