700 PEP students to repeat

700 PEP students to repeat

Ministry says 80 per cent of 38,918 get a school of choice

Associate editor - features

Saturday, June 27, 2020

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MORE than 700 students who were registered to take the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) exam this year stand to repeat grade six in the next school year which begins in September.

The bulk of the students – 739 – missed February's sitting of the Grade 6 Ability Test and subsequently asked to be deferred for next year's test.

The remaining 32 represents students who either, having come from private prep schools asked not to be placed, migrated or passed away during the period.

The Ministry of Education confirmed that those who asked to be deferred have not yet attained the maximum age of 12 and are therefore eligible to repeat grade 6.

The ministry reported yesterday that 100 per cent of the eligible PEP cohort, a total of 38,918, were placed in high schools — 80 per cent were placed according to their list of preferred schools; 16 per cent according to the proximity of the school to their home; and the remaining four per cent were placed manually for a range of reasons, including access to special needs facilities.

PEP is a high school-qualifying assessment that is administered over three years, starting with the literacy and numeracy tests in grade 4. Students sit ability, competence-based and performance tests in grades five and six, with the final scores and school placements being determined from a composite of all three grades.

Grade 6 students sat the ability test in February, but the competence-based and performance components were cancelled as a result of the novel coronavirus.

As it had previously explained would be the case, the ministry outlined yesterday that in the absence of the two missed tests, students were placed according to the previously earned grades only. It said grade 4 accounted for 30 per cent of the score, grade five for 20 per cent, and grade six, 50 per cent.

Education Minister Karl Samuda said it was “the most equitable way for the placement of students”, based on several statistical models which tested the multiple scenarios.

“It is very important to understand that the basis on which grades were prepared was not just some airy-fairy theory assessment by a teacher or a group of teachers. It was actually based on empirical data achieved from grade 4, going up to where we are today with those students, except in grade 6,” Samuda said.

According to the minister, based on their performance in grade 5 in 2019, 50 per cent of the students are at the “proficient” and “highly proficient” level across the social studies and languages sections.

“That translates into being sufficiently accomplished to take on all the challenges going into high school,” Samuda reported yesterday. “That is a very good sign for us. We have a journey to travel but we have achieved a level that is very satisfactory; and we will be strengthening that as we go along with additional help and coaching and so forth.”

Where mathematics and science are concerned, Samuda said 45 per cent and 49 per cent, respectively, were proficient and highly proficient.

“This is the elephant in the drawing room,” Samuda said. “This is the guy that is giving us trouble. These two – maths and sciences – and Jamaica cannot genuinely take its place in the type of performance that we are capable of taking unless we get it right with math and the sciences. The natural ability is there, [but] we will have to focus as we go forward on ensuring that the methods used [and] the curriculum are appropriate, and the preparation of the students is sufficient to enable them to do much better.”

The PEP placement results were announced via a virtual press conference from the ministry's Heroes' Circle head office. The results were later shared electronically with schools and parents.

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