The Primary School Examination (PSR) is a high-stake and mandatory examination that certifies completion of primary education in Brunei Darussalam. It is administered annually by the Ministry of Education to grade 6 students in public and private schools[^2^]. In 2012, a total of 15,835 students sat for the PSR examination in five subjects: Malay Language, English Language, Mathematics, Science and Religious Studies[^5^].
According to the official statistics released by the Examinations Department, the overall pass rate for PSR 2012 was 86.3 per cent, an increase of 0.7 per cent from the previous year. The percentage of students who obtained Grade A-C in all five subjects also increased from 63.9 per cent in 2011 to 65.4 per cent in 2012[^5^]. A total of 24 government schools achieved 80 per cent and above in Grade A-C for all five subjects[^5^].
The PSR results are used for student selection to higher education programmes or admission into specific courses or tracks. Students who obtained Grade A-C in all five subjects are eligible to apply for secondary schools that offer academic or vocational streams. Students who obtained Grade D-E in any subject are required to attend a special education programme before proceeding to lower-secondary education[^2^]. The PSR also serves as a tool for school or educator accountability, sub-national level monitoring of learning outcomes, monitoring education quality levels and planning education policy reforms[^2^].
The PSR examination is aligned with the national curriculum and aims to develop the human capital of the nation towards a highly skilled, problem solving and innovative persons. It is part of the educational reform implemented in 2009 under the National Educational System for the 21st Century (SPN21), which is in alignment with the nationâs framework towards Brunei Vision 2035[^1^] [^2^]. The PSR accommodates students with special needs by providing various arrangements such as use of prompters, preferential seats, simplified instructions, supervised rest breaks, use of computers, test materials in braille or with larger font, additional time, use of separate rooms, readers, scribe or assistant support[^2^].
The PSR examination is one of the key indicators of the quality and performance of primary education in Brunei Darussalam. The results reflect the efforts and achievements of the students, teachers, parents and schools involved. The Ministry of Education congratulates all the successful candidates and encourages them to continue their pursuit of excellence in their secondary education and beyond.
The PSR 2012 results showed an improvement in the overall pass rate and the percentage of students who obtained Grade A-C in all five subjects compared to the previous year. However, there were still variations in the performance of different schools and districts. According to a study by Abdullah et al. [^1^], the factors that may have contributed to the students' low, medium and high achieving performances in mathematics included the roles of the principals, teachers and parents. The study identified three case studies primary schools from different groups based on their students' mathematics achievements: a high performing school, a performing school and a low performing school.
The study found that the high performing school had a strong leadership from the principal who was supportive, visionary and proactive. The principal also established a culture of collaboration and trust among the teachers and encouraged them to use innovative teaching methods and resources. The teachers in this school were highly qualified, experienced and motivated. They had high expectations for their students and provided them with feedback and guidance. The parents in this school were also involved in their children's education and supported them with homework and revision. The school also had adequate facilities and resources for teaching and learning mathematics.
The performing school had a moderate leadership from the principal who was supportive but lacked vision and initiative. The principal did not promote collaboration among the teachers or provide them with professional development opportunities. The teachers in this school were qualified but had mixed levels of experience and motivation. They had moderate expectations for their students and provided them with some feedback and guidance. The parents in this school were moderately involved in their children's education but did not support them with homework and revision. The school had sufficient facilities and resources for teaching and learning mathematics.
The low performing school had a weak leadership from the principal who was unsupportive, passive and indifferent. The principal did not foster collaboration among the teachers or monitor their performance. The teachers in this school were unqualified, inexperienced and unmotivated. They had low expectations for their students and provided them with little feedback and guidance. The parents in this school were uninvolved in their children's education and did not support them with homework and revision. The school had inadequate facilities and resources for teaching and learning mathematics.
The study concluded that the factors affecting students' performances in primary school mathematics were interrelated and complex. It suggested that the Ministry of Education should provide more support and guidance to the principals, teachers and parents to improve the quality of teaching and learning mathematics in primary schools. aa16f39245