Indeed, 43 children from Nanyang Primary this year scored above 270. In the majority of other schools, NO ONE scores above 270. The 2012 mystery top scorer with 285 is from Nanyang Primary School.
MOE might say that these FANTABULOUS results accrue to students from Nanyang Primary School's Gifted Education Program... and lesser mortals in other schools cannot hope to replicate these results simply because the kids are not as bright.
I can concede that perhaps the 270 and above scores come from the GEP cohort. But what of the 250+? Let us also bear in mind that NYPS is only one of 10 GEP centers (and the other GEP centers did not produce such FANTABULOUS results with their gifted children). Indeed, there are even some GEP parents who assert that GEP kids are not MEANT to do well at PSLE because their days are filled with esoteric learning NOT tested at the PSLE... and that GEP centres DO NOT drill their kids. I know for a fact that NYPS GEP kids get practice paper after practice paper to help them prepare for PSLE.
It is clear that NYPS is doing something marvelously right. The question is what.
Friends with children who go to NYPS tell me that parent involvement is important. Teachers will easily co-opt parents' help. Teachers will provide analyses of strengths and weaknesses, brief the parents thoroughly... and in this manner, they harness parents' time and resources for the improvement of academic results. There is nothing wrong with this since the curriculum is so advanced that no one seriously expects teachers to teach everything anyway. NYPS merely faces this fact head-on and leverages on it. In Little Boy's school, the teachers give practically no parental guidance at all. Emails go unanswered and teachers more often than not fail to reply to requests for guidance. It has happened so many times that I have quite given up asking Little Boy's teachers for help.
It helps that in NYPS only 4 in 10 students hail from HDB precincts. The other students are drawn from financially comfortable homes that surround the school. Homes that easily cost at least $7 million dollars for a somewhat humble abode. Errrr... humble for the neighbourhood. In such a context, parents CAN afford both a Stay-At-Home Mom AND specialised external teaching to step into the gaps that the school has kindly highlighted. Of course, not every parent in NYPS has wealth and time. I do know a few such parents from NYPS. The only thing then, for them to do... is shrug their shoulders and accept that they, as parents, are unable to add value to their children. Just too bad, I guess.
It also helps that being a GEP centre, the school has access to the Gifted Education materials and teaching methods, which it flows over to its own mainstream high ability classes. This could account for the fact that 47% of the school scored 250 and above.
The formula comes in 3 parts: School Exam Analysis to Guide Parents X Parent Involvement & Resources X Spillover of GEP Materials. The formula is multiplicative. If any part is ZERO, the show stops. Rich parents can't do much without school analyses. School analyses won't be useful unless parents have the resources to help. Without GEP methods and materials, the high ability would be denied material that would make a difference in the last 10 marks or so of each PSLE paper... so no amount of analyses and parent wealth will make a difference.
Of course, Petunia's formula may just be conjecture. What is clear however, is that schools are not same good academically. NYPS does do something right... especially since all the schools along the Bukit Timah belt have access to wealthy parents, but don't produce similar results. The formula is not as simple as parent wealth alone. It cannot be that the school plays no part at all in such fantabulous academic results. Of course, people will say that there is more to education than academics. I believe that too. Nonetheless, academics are key to a host of downstream perks such as...
(1) EESIS scholarships
(2) Entrance to top schools with delicious learning opportunities
(3) Post A level scholarships earned from the delicious learning opportunities from top schools
In short, there is a fair amount of short and long term monetary gain that arises from getting children into NYPS at the tender age of 7. Parents who are prepared to forego the chance at top notch academic results also need to have the emotional discipline to forego all the money their kids could enjoy... and the emotional discipline to tell themselves "I know that I am making choices that deny my child access to money and prestige. However, my child is worth more than an aggregate."
It takes parents with character to not play the game, knowing that certain choices (that have little to do with child ability) will bring their kids wealth and glory. It takes some steel to not play the Parentocracy game KNOWING that the one that will be denied opportunities and wealth is not oneself... but another person - one's child.
NYPS' results are all the more striking in that their mainstream cohort was not picked for entrance into the school by IQ. These are children of alumni... and the children of families who live near the school. Unless one can draw a strong correlation between Family Wealth and Children IQ (as well as alumni status and children IQ), then the stellar results must be due to something the school does right.
Can other schools learn from NYPS so that children of similar ability in other schools will not be denied the opportunities that exist downstream (scholarships and such....)? Perhaps, it may be necessary to tweak with scholarship eligibility criteria to account for the fact that there are students in OTHER schools who are very deserving but having NOT benefited from regular doses of academic steroids, score less well at the PSLE.