Ministry of Education makes final decision on exams

Basseterre, 27th May, 2020, (MyVue – The Coronavirus has severely hampered the academic year for students of all ages and though some effort was made to host online classes, the effort was not enough to convince education officials to administer the usual end of year examinations.

As a consequence, Minister of Education, Shawn Richards, has made it official, that there will be no examinations at the high schools and primary schools this year.

Richards, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister, has stated that “in order to keep students safe, and in alignment with public health guidance and physical school closures, the decision has been taken that national assessments, specifically the components of the Test of Standards and End of Year Secondary Schools’ Common Examinations, will not be administered for the 2019 – 2020 academic year.” 

A new system will be used to transition students from one form to the other, and from primary school to high school, Richards said in a May, 25th broadcast.

He noted that questions continue to be raised regarding the usual assessment of students for the transitioning to secondary schools. “Students and parents have been asking specifically about Tests of Standards but national assessments consist of more than Tests of Standards,” he said.

He explained that in recent years, the Ministry of Education, through the Curriculum Development Unit, has administered national assessments for grades 4 and 6 in primary schools, and common exams in selected subject areas for students in forms 1 through 3 in secondary schools.

He added that ordinarily, national examination brings with it a certain level of anxiety for all stakeholders and we are mindful that children, parents, and families at large are coping with the challenges inherent with protracted physical school closure and the transition to online and virtual education.

Given the current education environment, he said they took care to mitigate as much as possible the disadvantages which the current national context brings to bear for students.  

Therefore, in order to ensure that all students receive the necessary support to succeed in secondary school, measures are being put in place to address the transition of grade six students to secondary schools, said the minister.

“The proposed approach will utilize the review of students’ academic record for grade 5 and the existing grade 6 record for Term 1 and 2 of the current academic year,” he said. “Further, a process of consultation between grade six teachers and secondary schools will be facilitated to allow for the comprehensive review of students’ performance.”

The method, which was recommended for the transitioning of students to secondary schools, is consistent with best practices in education and is in full alignment with not only the Ministry of Education’s Sector Strategy Plan 2017 to 2021, but more specifically it aligns with the Curriculum Review and Enhancement process which promotes the continuous and varied assessments of students’ learning and performance, added Richards.

Richards believes,”it is deemed to be in the best interest of the students and similar process of assessment utilizing marks from Term 1 and 2 along with teacher consultation will guide the promotion of secondary students.

Photo: Basseterre High School students