JTA president not surprised by decline in passes in CXC maths and English

President of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) Winston Smith says he is not surprised by the less than stellar performance of Jamaican students in this year’s Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) sitting.

Following the release of the results last week, Minister of Education Fayval Williams on Tuesday noted that there was a decline in students’ performance in English language and mathematics in this year’s Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams when compared to the previous year.

Yesterday, Smith told the J amaica Observer that the results reflect the need for a holistic approach to enhancing students’ performance.

According to Smith, although he has not received a full breakdown of the results, he is aware that there is a perennial issue concerning mathematics and other subjects.

“From what I am getting out there, there are some areas that would have improved and there are other areas where some more work needs to be done. But, like I’ve always said, if we are going to build education we can’t just look at what takes place at the terminal point, we have to look at how we reinforce the different levels coming up to that point,” said Smith.

“For some reason, we seem to focus on CXC, not recognising that CXC is the culmination of a process, and if we ignore the early childhood sector, the primary level, and the early years in the secondary system, then how do we expect to maximise the output at the CXC level?” added the JTA president.

He said he wants to see a more concerted effort being taken by educators, and the rest of society, to ensure the concretisation from the ground level in the education sector to avoid fluctuation of performance in some subject areas and to produce excellence.

Addressing a media briefing on Tuesday, Williams noted that 73 per cent of Jamaican students who sat the exams achieved passes of grades 1, 2 and 3, which was a drop from 84 per cent in 2020.

For mathematics, which she said was the subject with the greatest weakness, 38 per cent of students had passes, which was well below 2020 when the country recorded 61 per cent with the passing grades.

“To address the performance gaps, especially in the areas of numeracy and literacy, the National School Learning and Intervention Plan, augmented by our specialist teacher model, will address the foundational principles and improved readiness of our students to pursue the CXC syllabi,” said Williams.

She noted that there are now a total of 83 mathematics educators 50 deployed at 159 primary schools, 19 deployed at 72 secondary schools, and 14 specialists who continue to provide academic support remotely and physically.

According to Williams, these mathematics educators are engaged in weekly activities, including observation and demonstration of lessons, department planning sessions, and consultations with principals and teachers.

The education minister said the result showed 205,451 subject entries, of which 182,176 (88.7 per cent) were sat. Of the total entries sat, 65 per cent were awarded grades one to three.

“This year’s results, in comparison to that of last year, showed improved performances in seven subjects; namely, agricultural science, human & social biology, integrated science, music, textiles, clothing & fashion, theatre arts and visual arts. This means that in 27 subjects, the results were similar to, or less than that of 2020,” said Williams.

She pointed out, too, that there was a slightly higher percentage of males who achieved grades one to three passes in four subjects than females. Those are agricultural science, economics, French, and principles of business.

Meanwhile, Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) Unit 1 courses had a total of 37,416 subject entries, of which 91 per cent sat, with 88 per cent passes.

For Unit 2, of the 16,227 subject entries, a total of 14,841 sat, with 90 per cent passes.

Williams argued that in light of ongoing pandemic and all other constraints faced by students they performed satisfactorily in some subject areas.

“Other than the mathematics, that clearly is signalling to us that we need to make changes in terms of our approach and other things we are doing currently, we need to assess those and to see what other interventions we can have across the education system to help our students,” declared Williams.

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