Shining a Light on PASM


More than 300 educators, experts and stakeholders gathered recently for the International Conference on Secondary School Alternative Assessment 2023 (InCoSSAA 2023) to discuss and share their thoughts in the field of alternative assessment.

Conference spokesperson and the Examinations Syndicate’s senior assistant director (Assessment Policy Sector),  Dr Habibah Mat Rejab, said the programme was held to spread understanding about the Secondary School Alternative Assessment (PASM) for Students with Special Educational Needs (MBPK) to educators and the general public.

“It was organised by the Education Ministry from Oct 4 to Oct 6 as a large-scale platform to share knowledge and experiences on alternative assessment, featuring a forum for discussion between educators, assessment experts, domestic and international education organisations and stakeholders.”

The conference was officiated by Director-General of Education Datuk Pkharuddin Ghazali and was also attended by Deputy Director-General of Education (Policy and Curriculum Sector) Dr Ahmad Rafee Che Kassim; Examinations director Dr Mohd Azam Ahmad, Yayasan Hasanah Head of Education Dr Nur Anuar Abdul Muthalib and the ministry’s divisional directors.

“The conference featured two keynote sessions, two paper presentation sessions and a forum session. The keynote session was kicked off by Dr Mohd Azam Ahmad and assessment experts from University of Sydney, Dr Cathy Little and Professor David Evan.” 

Habibah said the two presentation sessions were delivered by Dr Khodori Ahmad from KNK Total Assessment Sendirian Bhd and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Special Educational Needs lecturer Dr Mohd Norazmi Nordin.

She added that the conference continued with a forum session involving diverse panels of domestic and foreign agencies that were directly involved with special needs students.

“In conjunction with the organisation of InCoSSAA 2023, the Examination Syndicate also took the opportunity to introduce PASM and the Secondary School Alternative Certificate (SASM) implemented in Malaysia to recognise the skills and abilities of MBPK students to local and international assessment bodies.”

The conference was also live streamed via the ministry’s EduwebTV where an estimated 10,000 participants had attended.

Physical attendees included representatives from a number of public and private organisations related to students with special needs, non-governmental organisations, parental, community and private Involvement committees, the National Union of Teaching Profession, academics, assessment experts, school administrators, and special education teachers.

The conference also involved foreign participants, especially from Asean countries in collaboration with  Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation Regional Centre for Special Educational Needs.

Habibah said that PASM was first introduced in 2021 specifically to assess MBPK at the secondary level by the ministry through the Examination Syndicate.

The module was developed to detect students’ abilities.

“This assessment applies the ERRA model (Environment-Reaction-Recognition Acknowledgement) with assessment features holistic, integrated and student-centred format. An environment-based assessment instrument is used as a tool to assess potential and actual ability reported in the form of ability standards for recognition and certification purposes.”

She added that the implementation of PASM was an effort of the Examination Syndicate as a response to the Education Ministry’s desire to realise the aspirations of the Malaysian Education Blueprint  2013-2025, which was to provide equal access to international qua-lity education. 

“PASM is implemented continuously and systematically with the help of technology starting from registration up to the student’s certification.

“After completing their education, MBPK students will be awarded the SASM, which serves as a value-added credential that recognises the candidate’s skills and provides information for employers.”

She further stated that the ministry hopes to increase awareness of alternative assessment, particularly PASM, among educators, parents, community, and assessment bodies both domestically and internationally.

“In addition, the ministry also hopes for a positive response from stakeholders towards special needs students who received the SASM so that they can continue to live independently in the community.”