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23 Jul

GSAT results are out…yupiee!!!

Students of St Richards Primary celebrating after the GSAT results were released.

The much anticipated Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) results are out. The print media was saturated with congratulatory publications for the many boys and girls who have worked hard, –and sacrificed a big part of their childhood (play) — and aced the examination. I too want to join in and congratulate these youngsters on their successful completion of one phase of their journey — especially those students who got perfect scores.

I am elated to see that the students who got perfect scores are not limited to the preparatory schools. I’m also elated that several students (not the usual 1,2,3, or 4) got perfect scores and it was not just girls. It is evidence of the abilities of our children.

The level of celebration of some of the parents superseded their exuberant youngster. Understandably so. Most parents toiled alongside their child/ren to ensure they were prepared for the examination. No surprises in that regard though, because each parent wanted his/her child to get the privilege of attending a prestige high school. I presumed some parents were so traumatized by the examination, that some even camped out close to the GSAT centres. You would believe they were the ones sitting the examination.

Some were not too happy with their results

Now results are out and they are reaping the rewards. Well…not all. While some celebrated, there were others who were grossly disappointed. This is because their child did not get the school of choice. It is not easy as a parent to watch the tears of your child flowing, and you cannot stop their tears from flowing.

With this disappointment, requests for transfer flowed in by the hundreds to the supposedly prestige high school. Some persons were successful in getting this transfer, while others were denied this.

Why seek transfer?
I cannot definitively posit justifications for individual’s request for transfer, but I will go out on a limb and say that some schools are not viewed to be of the same standard as others and hence, some parents think their child will not access quality education. Having interacted at with various institution, I must admit that there are some schools I would prefer not to send my child. While some may argue that the curriculum used in all schools is the same, there are other factors that handicap the effective impartation of same.

As I zeroed in on the numerous facebook posts during the period, most of them started like this or close to this “Congratulations to my son/daughter/nephew/niece who pass his/her GSAT for…” and of course they rattle off the prestige high school. There is one word that had me thinking- “PASS”. Is GSAT a pass or fail examination or a mere placement test? To my knowledge, every child that sits GSAT is placed in a school where secondary education is imparted. Therefore, how do we get the word “pass” in the same sentence? Is this to say the students who did not receive the school of choice, or averages above 60% or 70% did not “pass”? Certainly, by the standards of the examination they did not fail, so what would we call it? Or is it that the congratulatory expressions were not just about pass or fail, but moreso about earning a place at the prestige institution?

He sure is happy with his results…celebrate he must

Regardless of what it is, celebrations are in order and no one can deny the young students that.

My only regret is that despite the many strides made in the development of education, system is still fractured to the point where there are so many schools that remain in such deplorable state that parents refuse to see them as viable institutions to educate their children.

What say you?

*Pictures taken from google images


Class Projects, School Based Assessment Projects, Thesis paper: One and the Same?

9 Nov

Excuses…not acceptable


I was in third form when I was penalized for not submitting my Geography class project on time. I tried to explain the reason for the late submission but I still lost marks for not meeting the stipulated deadline. I was angry and even thought I hated the teacher because she was being difficult- or so I thought.   But guess what?  I NEVER missed another deadline.  Lesson learnt? RESPECT DEADLINES!

Sometimes our students view these projects/SBAs as teachers giving them too much work but the reality is: there are so much life skills to be learnt from undertaking these tasks.   As educators it is our responsibility to ensure that our students understand the personal benefits of doing project-benefits that extends beyond a numerical grade that amounts to a pass or a fail.

It doesn’t matter what the method of assessment is as one format is preparation to successfully take on and complete the other.  From early as Primary or Prep school, students are given projects of various natures to complete.  This practice is carried over into the high schools and culminates into the eventual completion of several School Based Assessment Projects.  Their class project experience should prepare them for this.  Students’ ambitions will propel them to pursue tertiary level studies where they HAVE to do a research paper/thesis.  Their SBAs would have aided in this preparation.


Is there a difference among these various forms of Assessment?


Are these Class projects, SBAs or Research paper…cant tell at a glance.

No. The same skill sets are utilized. The difference is that with the increase in each grade level, the tasks become more challenging but the same skill sets are further developed and new ones learnt.  All forms of assessment (project SAB, Research paper) encourage independent learning where students will conduct a research to gather data, compile and document same based on guidelines given by teacher. They are usually assisted by someone in the process. E,g at the primary level, students are often assisted by their parents in the completion of their project; at the high school level, students are assisted by parents too but are highly supervised by their subject teachers; at the tertiary level, students are also supervised by their assigned lecturers.

It therefore means students should take these works seriously but will only do so if participants in the teaching and learning process help them to see the importance. Some of us are guilty of frivolity regarding how we treat some forms of assessment.  If it is not being assessed externally, then it mitigates its importance.  BUT!  This practice is wrong.  The same level of emphasis placed on the student completing a project in grade six, should be extended to the completion of SBAs in Grades ten and eleven.  Nullifying the importance of one over the other, is robbing students of the opportunity to grasp the skills set at the varying level. Once this happens, the challenges are reflected in subsequent tasks.

The question is? Are these forms of assessment one and the same?  The answer to that question is a resounding yes!

What are your thoughts? Do you think they are one and the same? I would like to hear from you.

*Images taken from google pictures




14 Aug

I’ve always loved this cartoon…it accurately captures how assessments are carried out in our education system


I find the ranking of schools based on CXC passes as unfair, unjust, unreasonable, absurd, preposterous, illogical, unreliable and senseless as can be. CXC/CSEC passes do NOT reflect the performance of a school.

Let us look at some facts:

Type of Students:  All schools are different and function under varying circumstances.   Most schools like a Campion college is ranked number one at the CXC/CSEC level with every cohort of student that enter its doors. You know why?  The students who most time matriculate to such an institution are always the top students in the GSAT examination. They scored grades 96-100.    More often than not, the students who attend this particular institution, are from affluent backgrounds, thus their parents can provide all the relevant resources and pay for numerous extra-classes or better yet TUTORING SESSION that these students need. It therefore stands as foregone decision that these students will five years later, produce similar results to make the institution be ranked at number one.

Meanwhile in another institution such as  such as Tacious Golding High or any other school that is currently ranked at the bottom of this performance listing, generally receive a quota of students who perform at the lowest levels in the GSAT examination. It can therefore be postulated that such schools would have been ranked at that level the moment it receives it cohort of students each year.

Environment:  How many of you have ever been on the grounds of a Campion College?  If not, you need to. That place is like a mini university. The moment you enter the gates, there is an atmosphere of business.  You pass a well-kept and design parking lot and enter a COURT YARD!   Can you believe that?  This court yard reminds you of the European/renaissance era. How many schools possess that. The compound is huge! There are adequate classrooms, pools, tennis courts, a STATE OF THE ART LIBRARY, and the list goes on.  You all know what a university looks like so just imagine a mini model of that.  This is an environment conducive for learning.  Compare this to a school where there is no parking lot or if there is one it accommodate no more than five vehicles;  classrooms are inadequate and classes are conducted under trees; rooms are over crowded with only a few feet students from the chalkboard;  library is housed in a make shift room with out dated books; the computer room has about 15-20 computers to serve the entire school populace (and I am talking hundreds of students). Some schools are even situated in the heart of garrisons where classes are sometimes interrupted by acts of violence.


THE Court Yard at Campion College High School

Resources:  This is always a sore point in discussion about education.  Most schools tend to have a deficiency in this area but some schools are more chronic.  If Campion is a min-university, then you know that resources are in abundance.  There are other schools that are average where as these are concerns but some are less than average.  The fact is, without resources, (books; lab equipment; technology, among others) the teaching and learning process with be challenging.

These are by no means the only reasons Because others such as The quota of students sent for CXC/CSEC sitting by an institution; the policies of schools, etc… but I think I have made my point with these few.

The main point is, even though these schools receive poor performance students, do not possess an environment conducive for learning, lack resources, and do not produce results of a Campion College, it does NOT mean the school is under performing.   When you are doing laundry, do you wash your whites with your dark colours? I didn’t think so.  You separate them to ensure the whites remain snow white without being affected by the dye from the dark colours.  There are also those outfits that are made from delicate fabric and you will launder those separately. Some you take to the cleaners.  Like your laundry, you cannot just bundle all schools together and then label some schools as poor performing institutions. In assessing performance of schools several approach could be taken;

  • Assess schools in categories:  Bundle schools with similar capacity like Campion College and assess them against each other and vice versa for the others;
  • Assess schools against themselves: assessment in the form of  pre-test should be done one schools to determine where they are; subsequent post-test should be done which could be the CXC/CSEC and then compare the post-test with pre-test.  Then the performance of such institution can be determined.
  • Five year Plan: all schools have a five year plan.  Look what in that five year plan addresses student’s performance. Then when the assessment is done, you look at the progress of the institution and deduce from the results to see whether or not the school was on a path to achieve what is laid out in that five year plan.

The ranking of schools in this manner has made CXC/CSEC examination more about statistics than the students.  In an effort to be ranked among top performers based on CXC/CSEC results have caused several institutions to implement policies that prevent students from sitting these examinations earlier than the eleventh grade. This is because the institution would not have that student as part as its statistics when the same cohort of student sits the examination in the eleventh grade.  I find this unreasonable as it is marring the progress of students.  If a student or the parents believe they are capable of taking on the task of sitting a subject at an earlier age, then I do not believe that any school has the right to hold such a student back. But such is the direct consequence of these unfair, unreasonable, and unreliable ranking of schools based on CXC/CSEC passes.