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Improvement in CSEC results

Thursday, August 14, 2014    

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MORE students excelled in mathematics in the June 2014 sitting of the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations, while there were overall increases in the pass rates for 13 other subjects, Education Minister Ronald Thwaites has disclosed.

Of the 189,812 students who wrote the exams, 135,368 attained grades one to three passes -- an increase of 2,647 from last year's figure of 132,721. A total of 196,434 students were entered for 35 subjects.

"A total of 23,351 students sat the mathematics examination this year compared to 22,870 last year -- an increase of 481 [12,963 attained grades one to three passes]. Mathematics passes enjoyed the largest increase of 13 [percentage points] moving from 42 to 56 per cent," Thwaites said.

But the improvement, Thwaites declared, is not good enough.

"This is an improvement over the last year but I wish to make the point that this is not good enough and by 2016 it is the policy of the ministry that all graduating students must sit some form of examination in mathematics," he said.

Meanwhile, physics recorded the second largest increase, moving from 69 to 78 per cent, with the overall pass rate in the sciences recording the largest improvement of seven percentage points.

Thwaites wants more students to take up the sciences in order to benefit from job openings in the global market.

"While the results are encouraging, there is still a relatively few number of students who take the sciences at the CSEC level. We're on a campaign to encourage more students to take these subjects as they are the gateway to so many professions and employment opportunities," Thwaites said.

Additionally, the minister said that the improvement in the pass rate for mathematics resulted from initiatives rolled out by the ministry's National Mathematics Team from 2012, which included a National Mathematics Policy Guideline. Part of the initiative was to target 96 schools classified as on the cusp or weak-performing institutions.

Among the target schools were Papine High, Mona High, and Pembroke Hall High whose math passes improved by 39 per cent,

23 per cent, and 13 per cent, respectively.

Thwaites also said that the National Commercial Bank Foundation has been steadfast in its support for math education, and once the school administration is committed, students would achieve more.

"These are good signs for the future. Once more I show you what we can achieve if we are focused and dedicated to making the changes," he said.

In the meantime, 17,613 (66 per cent) of the 26,527 who wrote the English Language exam passed. The pass rate actually shows an increase from the 64 per cent achieved in 2013.

The grades for English are broken down into two profiles -- understanding and expression. Most students received 'A' for understanding and an 'E' for expression.

Said Thwaites: "It points out to us the need for far more reading aloud and far more speaking in English in classroom and other situations."

He added that the grades underscored the need for teachers to provide adequate opportunities for practice and feedback when students write and reiterated that in two years an oral component would be added to English examinations for all students.

Moreover, Thwaites maintained that by grade four, students should have reasonable competence in English, which should increase passes by 20 per cent.

The education minister also disclosed that the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) reflected a 10 per cent increase in Unit One entries, and a seven per cent increase in entries for Unit Two.

In total 54,972 students were entered for a total of 25 subjects, from which 48,416 received grades one to five passes.

But while the number of entries increased, there was a slight decline in the passes.

"There were 38,536 entries in Unit One. Of those entries 87 per cent attained grades one to five. This represents a two percentage point decline from 2013," Thwaites said.

"There were 16,436 entries in Unit Two and 91 per cent attained grades one to five, there was no change from last year's result," Thwaites added.

A new subject, digital media, was added to the curriculum and all 17 candidates who sat the examination passed.

The minister used the opportunity to highlight that for the 2014 CAPE results, the boys outdid the girls which, he said, "is good sign".

— Kimberley Hibbert

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