Sunday 21 July, 2019

Minister: Too many students falling below average

The 2019 Barbados Secondary Schools Entrance Examination (BSSEE) results have been released and while some maybe celebrating, Minister of Education, Santia Bradshaw, believes the results highlight the need for reform of the education system.  

Speaking at a press conference from Ministry Headquarters this morning, Bradshaw said while there were high points in this year's results, such as the 35 students who scored full marks in Mathematics, she said too many students are falling through the cracks due to improper or inadequate assessments.  

“I do think that the statistics are clearly showing us that there is a need for reform. A number of the students who are performing below average could perhaps have done with better assessments at an earlier age.” 

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Statistics reveal the national mean in Mathematics for 2019 is 61.58 which represents a slight decline of 0.88 from last year when it was 62.46. A total of six students scored raw zero on the Math paper.  

In the English paper, the national mean also declined, down 3.7 percent this year to 65.74 as compared to last year's 69.44 per cent.  

Statistics also show that the majority of the 42 public schools have consistently scored below the national mean over the past three years, whereas the majority of the 20 private schools continue to perform above the national mean. 

Bradshaw said the fact that private schools continue to take top spots in the Examination, shows public schools are in need of additional resources and specialized teachers who are equipped to deal with students who may present with learning disabilities.  

“There is a big difference between a teacher who is being paid a salary and therefore must ensure that their students perform and do well versus some of our schools who may have very good teachers but have been plagued with difficulties in terms of resources.  

A lot of things that are manifesting themselves in the system, in terms of results, we could have captured if we had been doing the diagnostic testing a lot earlier and if we had been ensuring that teachers were trained to assist children in the classroom."

She said more focus needs to be placed on “differentiating instruction and making accommodations” so as to help students grasp the most from lessons. 

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