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Poor performance in Maths gains Cabinet’s attention

posted Jan 15, 2017, 11:57 AM by Surendra Dhanpaul   [ updated Feb 8, 2017, 10:11 AM ]
Kaieteur News 2016.10.26

Poor performance in Mathematics is being considered a matter of national urgency by Government. This was the declaration made when Cabinet met on Tuesday.
It was underscored that the daunting performance requires Government’s focused attention and commitment to finding adequate and appropriate solutions in the shortest possible time.
Members of the Cabinet met Tuesday and deliberated “as a matter of extreme urgency and grave national importance,” the unsatisfactory results in Mathematics nationwide, at the 2016 Grade Six Examination.
Senior officials from the Ministry of Education, including Minister Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine, were engaged by Cabinet to examine the declining performance of students in mathematics at this year’s Grade six assessment.
For many years Guyana has consistently failed to achieve acceptable pass rates in mathematics, an important core subject. It must be noted that the previous approach to this problem has been inadequate.
This year, for the first time, the Ministry of Education contracted the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) to conduct the examination for the Grade Six students in Guyana. The basis of assessment used by the Caribbean Examination Council was radically different from what was used previously by the Ministry of Education. What was observed was that this year there was an increased focus on reasoning and a decreased emphasis on retention.
The new method to testing as implemented by CXC has exposed even more the weakness of the previous approach to education adopted by the Ministry of Education in previous years.
As part of a plan for short and medium term measures, Cabinet called on the Ministry of Education and its technical advisors to identify all appropriate steps needed to remedy this situation.
Those steps would include remedial training of teachers, better and more varied text books, more teaching aids and better use of technology in the delivery of education.
When the 2016 NGSA results were released this year, Minister Roopnaraine disclosed that strategic collaborations between his Ministry and CXC are expected to improve the quality of all primary grade assessments.
Local teachers, subject specialists and test development officers were tasked with developing all items for the 2016 NGSA, with the technical guidance of CXC. The support from CXC also included making the local professionals competent to address key areas such as item construction, weighting of items, sampling and other psychometric elements.
According to Minister Roopnaraine, “the objective of this consultation is to ensure that all assessments conform to regional and international test development and administration standards and expectations to facilitate consistent, reliable measurement and tracking of pupil performance.”
The 2016 NGSA was written on April 27 and 28. A total of 14, 386 candidates were assessed in the subject areas of Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and English Language.
While the performance in English Language and Social Studies this year has been consistent with previous years, this was not the same for Mathematics and Science. Both fell below what was obtained in previous years, the Minister admitted.
The best performance in Mathematics this year was secured by one of the top national performers, Aryan Singh (of the Dharmic Rama Krishna School), who also produced the best performance in Social Studies.
Singh and Anthony Ferreira of Mae’s Under 12 were named the top performers at this year’s NGSA with a total score of 568 marks each. The highest possible total score obtainable was 583.