Tue | Jul 16, 2019

More calls for raw PEP scores

Published:Wednesday | June 19, 2019 | 12:09 AM
Opposition Spokesperson on Education Ronald Thwaites (right) makes a point to his deputy, Micheal Stewart, and Elaine Foster Allen, chairman of the People’s National Party’s Education Commission, at a press conference yesterday.
Opposition Spokesperson on Education Ronald Thwaites (right) makes a point to his deputy, Micheal Stewart, and Elaine Foster Allen, chairman of the People’s National Party’s Education Commission, at a press conference yesterday.

As students, teachers and parents nervously await the results of the first sitting of the Primary Exit Profile (PEP), the People’s National Party (PNP) has joined the call for the raw scores from the examinations to be revealed.

“We insist ... that the grades and percentages of each student of each school be available as had been the case [with PEP’s predecessor, the Grade Six Achievement Test]. That is the only way that we can enable comparison with other students and schools,” Ronald Thwaites, the opposition spokesperson on education and training, said at a press conference yesterday.

“The publication of the percentage scores would also disclose to the country how effective has been the introduction of the New Standards Curriculum and the PEP mode of evaluation. It’s important that we conduct that evaluation based on these results,” Thwaits added.

Last week, Karl Samuda, the minister overseeing the education portfolio since Ruel Reid’s departure, said that the result format for PEP would be changed from the GSAT’s percentage-based system to a detailed report on students’ performance with a scaled score.

Defending the new grading scheme in last week’s sitting of the public administration and appropriations committee of Parliament, Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Dr Grace McLean, said the new grading scheme would remove the stigma associated with examinations of this nature.

But incoming president of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), Owen Speid, rejects that line of argument.

He told The Gleaner yesterday that the new grading scheme – which ranks students at beginning, developing, proficient and highly proficient levels – is likely to make stigmatisation worse.

“If a child finishes grade six and that child falls in the category of beginning – beginning in this education system, in the entire sector, means kindergarten – you are telling that child that you are just at kindergarten or beginning,” said Speid, the principal of Rousseau Primary School in Kingston.

He added: “You have done kindergarten already, maybe two years, some three years, and then you come through primary school, you’ve done six years. So [with the] eight or nine years, you’ve done in school so far, and all you could see on your thing is that you’re beginning? That is more stigma than if you gave them 10 per cent,” he argued.

Speid, who will officially take over the reins at the JTA on August 19, said the new results format could prove to be unhelpful to students and parents, charging that it was an attempt by the ministry to cover up undesirable test results.

“The real matter, though, I think – and I’m telling you what I think – is that the results are so poor that they are trying to sugar-coat, to cover it, and this is the only method they could get. It is not going to help anybody at all because the teachers don’t understand this scoring system, the parents don’t understand the scoring system,” Speid said.

PEP results are expected to be released by the end of the week.

nickoy.wilson@gleanerjm.com