Minister of Education unhappy with this year’s 11-plus Maths results
Mathematics teachers have been put on notice that they have to go back to the classroom to upgrade their teaching skills because, as far as the Minister of Education is concerned, they’re not up to scratch.
Ronald Jones said today he was dissatisfied with both students’ performance in this year’s 11-Plus mathematics exam and the way the subject was being taught in primary schools.
He expressed his concern and outlined the way forward at a Press conference this morning at his ministry, where he announced the exam results, including that Jaimie-Lynn Taitt Gibson, of Charles F Broome Memorial School; Kacie Corbin, of St Winifred’s School; and Yohance Lennox Frank Lewis, of St Cyprian’s Boys’ School, all scored 248.77 and an A in the exam to tie for top spot this year.
Jones said the ministry would be getting retired teachers involved in helping the current crop of educators to up their game and deliver mathematics “more dynamically, more assertively, so that some of the challenges which students encounter in the mathematics paper would disappear over time”.
The average score for mathematics this year was 57.6 per cent, which was marginally better than last year’s 55.4 per cent, but still worse than in 2012 and 2011 when the average score was 58.73 per cent and 60.92 per cent respectively.
Jones wants to see the average mark move to at least 70 per cent over the next two to three years.
“Teachers can prepare themselves for workshops over the next year or two, led by very competent deliverers of mathematics within the school system; and we will also look at maybe some specialization at the level of the primary school to ensure that students actually get the best teachers in the teaching of mathematics,”
“We have had some offers by some very competent maths persons; they are retired now. We are going to bring them on board to go out into our schools, work with our teachers, lift the standard up. We can’t be satisfied that the mean is as it is,” the minster added, insisting that the performance this year had nothing to do with any particular “shock or surprise” in the exam paper since it has been set consistently over the last five years.
The minister also questioned whether diagnostic testing was being done, as required, in the schools.
“We applied the criterion reference test, which is a diagnostic test at Infants B and at Class 2. Therefore, the question must be asked: ‘what happens in our schools where a diagnostic test is in fact done, where you see the areas of difficulty?’ From Infants B when the child moves to Class 1, that is where all those corrective measures should have been put in place.”
“And then in Class 2 you do another diagnostic test to check to see if, in fact, they were corrected. It appears as if this is not happening and . . . we have to take a more determined and deliberate view, action in relation to what is happening in some of our schools,” he added.
Meanwhile, the minister pointed out that the maths problem was not unique to Barbados, noting that across the region there had been efforts to lift the standards in other Caribbean countries.
Jones said that 22 of the 3,729 students who sat the May 6 exam gained 100 percent in maths this year, which was slightly below the 30 pupils of two years ago.
As for the English, Jones said that of the 13 top performers, Rheanna King, from Eagle Hall, was the only one to score 100 per cent, with seven others getting 99 and the rest 98.
The minister said 96.3 per cent of the students were allocated to public secondary schools, using scientific means, while the others were manually allocated by the Ministry of Education, based on space availability.
Addressing the issue of parents seeking reallocation for their children, the minister said he expected parents to still be “bombarding the ministry” for reallocations “based on all kinds of theories”, but they would have little chance of getting their way.
“Every year I say it, and I can’t miss out saying this year. When the allocation is made, it is done scientifically, based on parental choice, and based on the capacity of the school to carry the numbers allocated,” asserted Jones, warning that parents who still request reallocation had only a “0.5 per cent” chance of that being honoured because there was simply no space.
Parents have until Friday at 4 p.m. to make their requests.