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Every child not learning, says education report

Sunday, December 15, 2013    

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THE Ministry of Education's public education theme is, 'Every Child Can Learn, Every Child Must Learn", but the latest chief inspector's report says that the progress of half of the students in the 304 most recently tested schools is "unsatisfactory".

The report also showed that in 242, or 80 per cent, of the schools inspected, the performance of students in national and/or regional tests and assessments, against the targets set for the sector, was "unsatisfactory" or needed "immediate support".

As a matter of urgency, the NIE recommended that the Ministry of Education move quickly to design and implement a plan to support and turn around 23 schools, which were identified as "in need of immediate support".

Effective schools are defined in the report as those with: strong leadership; a clear school mission; quality teaching and learning; a safe and orderly climate; transparent and effective monitoring of students' progress; and high expectations and parental involvement.

The report from the Chief Inspector, Maureen Dwyer, covered inspections done between September 2012 and March 2013, and was presented on Friday by Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites at a media briefing in Kingston.

The report showed that in 150, or 49 per cent, of the 304 schools inspected during the period, the students' progress was unsatisfactory. An additional four schools, or one per cent, were said to be "in need of immediate support".

"Leadership in these schools did not plan sufficiently and effectively for the progress of the students entering the institutions, resulting in whole cohorts being taught in the same way. This lack of variation in planning for students' learning very often resulted in the slower students struggling to keep up with their peers and the more able students insufficiently challenged," the report said.

It added that, in many lessons, most of the students were unable to complete the given tasks.

"The expectations of the teachers and the reality of what the students are really able to do, did not match in these situations. Didactic teacher-centred lessons were very common in these schools," it noted.

In terms of four schools needing "immediate support" in this area, English and Mathematics were singled out, and it was pointed out that the examination of staff records, lesson plans and evaluations indicated that the students' internal and national tests scores were consistently low and little progress was seen from year to year.

In terms of the performance of the students in national and/or regional tests and assessments, the report pointed out that in 16 of the schools inspected, students' attainment was rated as exceptionally high or good, performing consistently above the national and sector averages in core subjects. The primary examples listed were - St George's Girls and Corinaldi Avenue Primary schools; and Bishop Gibson, Hampton, the Queen's and Montego Bay high schools. The report did not name the under-performing schools.

According to the document, 236 schools did not meet the attainment targets at key output points in English and Mathematics at the secondary level, and numeracy at the primary level. In six of the schools inspected, students' attainment in English and Mathematics was rated as needing "immediate support".

The report noted that attainment in English Language was rated unsatisfactory in 75 per cent of the primary level schools, and 50 per cent of the secondary schools. English Language, as used in this report, includes Grade 4 Literacy, Grade 6 Language Arts and Grade 11 English Language.

The NEI, in its analysis of the issues, said that "overall, academic performance in key subject areas fell below the expected national standards".

"This is against the background of students' high level of awareness, and generally good behaviour, and it is certainly grounds for the continued pursuit of school improvement strategies that seek to establish a balance between the two," the report said.

The Inspectorate stated that the picture presented by the data calls into question the quality of support and provisions that are in place to help the schools and students realise the significant improvements needed to reach the expected standards.

The Ministry of Education established the National Education Inspectorate in 2008, to address issues identified and effect changes complementary to the transformation of the education sector.

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