JTA president-elect questions PEP mock exam results

Observer writer

Monday, November 05, 2018

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PORT ANTONIO, Portland — Owen Speid, Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) president-elect, has questioned the lack of transparency in the results for the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) mock examinations administered by the Ministry of Education in June.

Addressing the association's Portland half-yearly meeting at the Open Bible Church in Port Antonio last Friday, Speid claimed that of the 40,000 students who sat the mock exams, the ministry cannot produce results for even one student who was fully competent in all the areas tested.

“I remember writing an article that we were not ready for PEP, and the chief education officer responded trying to explain how prepared they were. Now, following up on that, the results of the June mock exams [were] that of the 40,000 children who sat that exam, the Ministry of Education so far is not in a position to tell me personally, or to tell the JTA, how many in terms of raw numbers out of that 40,000 children really passed the required standard in all categories. I am afraid to say that maybe you cannot find even one. That is the discussion we need to have. In the event that we set a test and when results come not even one student passes that test, something is wrong with that test.”

He said the JTA's position is that “we support PEP and we're not fighting it.”

“[But] we are going to be pushing as we have been pushing at them and we have seen that they have bent a little and have moved the Performance Task from December to March. We want the necessary resources to be provided that the teachers need to use to carry out the tasks and be effective. Everything takes time and the time for implementation, it would seem, based on the results that came out — we are saying the implementation of this National Standards Curriculum, which PEP is a part of, should take about six years for the students to learn to use the strategies and approaches that are relevant,” he pointed out.

In August, Dr Garth Anderson, president of the JTA, poured cold water on PEP, the examination that will be replacing the Grade Six Achievement Test to determine the placement of students in secondary schools.

In fact, despite teachers being a part of the discussions for the new exam, Anderson, in his first speech as JTA president, argued that PEP was on a course of failure.

Dr Anderson said that confusion and frustration among teachers, parents and students are rife, and argued that when the examination fails it will be the teachers who will be faulted.

Among his recommendations was that PEP should start with grade three students.

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