PEP students did fairly well but much work to be done — Samuda

Career & Education

PEP students did fairly well but much work to be done — Samuda

Associate editor - features

Sunday, June 23, 2019

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MINISTER without portfolio in the Ministry of Education Youth and Information, Karl Samuda has said that while there is work to do, the results of the inaugural sitting of Primary Exit Profile (PEP) is an indication that the education system at the primary level is headed in the right direction.

According to the preliminary performance data released on Friday, 40 per cent of the cohort demonstrated proficency or advanced profiency in mathematics, 49 per cent demonstrated proficency or advanced proficiency in science, 63 per cent demonstrated proficiency or advanced proficency in social studies, and 55 per cent demonstrated proficency or advanced profiency in language arts.

“Advanced proficiency” or “highly proficient” means students scored between 80 and 100 per cent, signalling that they demonstrate an advanced level of competence necessary at grade 6, as specified by the National Standards Curriculum, and are ready for grade 7

“Proficient”, meanwhile, means students earned between 50 and 79 per cent, which demonstrates adequate evidence of the required competence necessary at grade 6 but they may need minimal academic support at and/or extended learning activities at grade 7.

The other grading bands are “developing” and “beginning”.

In reference to the proficient category, Samuda said Friday that, “as the educating staff has explained it to me, they are pleased at the results they have seen in that category, but there is a lot more to be done to get them even further ahead”.

“We have work to do...our objective is to get more and more going up,” he added.

Nevertheless, the minister said the students performed fairly well in the inaugural sitting of PEP.

“Based on the students' performance, it is evident that the education system at the primary level is moving in the right direction,” he said.

The performance ratings reflect what the ministry said is a move from reporting raw scores to using a scaled methodology instead. The move, it argues, is a more accurate assessment of student performance, and is in line with international best practice.

PEP replaced Grade Six Achievemnet Test (GSAT) as the high school placement mechanism and was administered for the first time this school year.

Grade six students were tested in February, March and April according to competence, curriculum, and ability in the four subject areas.

“The first sitting of PEP represents a new approach in the reporting of the scores while ensuring that the scores are aligned to the Competence- Based Transition Policy and the Alternate Pathway for Secondary Education. One of the major goals of the National Standards Curriculum is to enable students to become critical-reflexive thinkers, creative problem solvers, effective communicators, and natural collaborators. The Primary Exit Profile aims to assess these skills and competencies as outlined by the National Standards Curriculum,” Samuda said Friday.

He argued that the structure and grading methodology of PEP are designed to put Jamaica on par with countries around the world.

“We would be better served in assessing the PEP if we leave behind us the GSAT type of examination,” Samuda said. “This is a new paradigm, this is a new curriculum, this is a new strategy.

“This strategy will move us to a different level. This strategy will enbale us to sit in any fora in the world and when we speak about the levels at which our children have reached, we [would be] speaking the same language. We [wouldn't] have to explain how we do it in Jamaica; they would immediately understand the language,” Samuda continued.

Further, the education minister said clinging to what he described as a myopic approach of focusing only on what is done in the country without an appreciation for and alignment with the dynamics of a changing world would be to Jamaica's detriment.

“PEP gives us the opportunity to look deep into the child's construct and to act accordingly,” said Samuda.

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