(BARBADOS TODAY) – While the national average on English is down, there has been a substantial improvement in Mathematics scores in this year’s Barbados Secondary Schools Entrance Examination, commonly known as the Common Entrance or 11-Plus.
The disclosure was made today by Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training Santia Bradshaw at a press conference at which she also pointed to an improved performance by both males and females over the past two years.
Addressing reporters at her ministry’s Constitution Road, St Michael headquarters, Bradshaw explained that the overall national mean for females had improved from 58.1 in 2017 to 65.26 in 2018, while the overall national mean for males had jumped from 51.8 in 2017 to 59.73 this year.
The positive change was also noticeable in terms of the students’ performance in Mathematics with the overall national average rising to 62.46, from 55.0 last year.
However, Bradshaw pointed out that overall, the English scores dropped to 69.44 from a national average of 70.4 in 2017, with none of the 3,418 students who sat the May 8 exam receiving full marks in English, compared to ten with full scores in Mathematics.
While commending the improvements in Mathematics, Bradshaw expressed concern about the number of public and private schools that failed to perform above the national average.
“Although there has been an improvement from the students overall in Mathematics, there has been no significant improvement in the number of schools, both public and private, which perform above the national mean,” she said, pointing out that there was a huge gap between the island’s top 25 performing primary schools and those on the lower end of the spectrum.
“The results do show . . . that there is a core of schools that are consistently in the top 25 performing schools and there is also a corresponding group of schools that performs the complete opposite,” she stressed.
However, she said she would seek to rectify the poor academic performance of some institutions through the selection of the boards of management even though she said there was some reluctance by persons to serve in schools that were considered to be performing below the average.
“There are several people who request participation on these boards because they attended some of the higher performing schools and then we have the deficiency where there are not enough people coming forward to serve the schools below the average” she lamented, adding that “we cannot have a situation where there continues to be a fallout in relation to these schools that are performing below the average”.
Bradshaw, whose Barbados Labour Party was elected to office a mere three weeks ago, also encouraged parents and interested parties “to reach out in some way to see if they can participate and to be able to lend their skill sets to these institutions”.
During the press conference which was carried live on Facebook, the Minister of Education revealed that her ministry was seeking to create a curriculum that was inclusive of academics and technical skills. She also said Government was considering reopening the Alma Parris Secondary School, which was closed in July 2017 by the previous Government.
Referring to the reopening as “high priority”, Bradshaw indicated the institution would cater to students who possessed non-academic skills.
“We are placing this high priority on our agenda for the simple reason that we recognize that we can no longer continue to have a situation where our children who may . . . have other skill sets that are of value to our country, are being left behind . . . . We have to find a way to integrate our children into the school system to make sure that no child feels as though they have been left behind,” she stressed.