Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 26, 2016 (SKNIS): The Federal Ministry of Education in St. Kitts and Nevis is taking steps to improve grades in a number of subject areas that have been described by the Deputy Prime Minister, Honourable Shawn Richards, as a “cause for concern.”
The main subjects identified were English Language, Mathematics, Information Technology, Integrated Science, Social Studies, and Visual Arts. A breakdown of the worrisome trend was provided by Honourable Richards, who is also the Minister responsible for Education, during a recent national address on the performance of students who sat the May-June 2016 Regional Examinations set by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) and Test of Standards.
Minister Richards revealed that “Mathematics has declined significantly after its best showing last year with 59.13 percent returning passing grades compared to 80 percent in 2015. Information Technology decreased from 90.81 percent in 2015 to 82.72 percent. The national pass rate for Integrated Science has also decreased from last year with 86.02 percent to 61.57 percent this year. Social Studies is steadily on the decline with 70.11 percent in 2015 and 67.83 percent this year.”
The performance by individuals sitting English Language was up slightly from 72.48 percent in 2015 to 73.75 percent in 2016 but only 74.82 percent of registered candidates to sit the exam were allowed to write the subject. Visual Arts had “an unacceptable pass rate” of 50 percent according to Minister Richards although it was an increase over the 31.11 pass percentage in 2015.
The Ministry of Education used its annual summer workshop, designed to improve the knowledge-base and skills of teachers, to focus on improving the national pass rates based on trends from the 2015 results. This year’s workshop was held from August 29 to September 01. A number of experts facilitated sessions with the respective teachers in the specific areas.
The Deputy Prime Minister said that CXC’s Chief Examiner for Visual Arts, Dr. Phyllis Hill, conducted training sessions at the workshop. Other CXC resource persons were tapped including Dwayne Renville and Dr. Joyce Stewart who reviewed the subjects of Mathematics and English A which both now have a School Based Assessment (SBA) component with the first exam in such to be held in 2018.
The expertise of others was also tapped including Everette Riley in Technical Drawing; Sandra Berry in Building and Furniture Technology, Electrical and Electronic Technology, and Mechanical Engineering Technology; Nicola Sparks-Browne in Home Economics, Dr. Henderson Carter in Caribbean History, Robin Holmes in Information Technology; and Kevin Facey in Geography.
Deputy Prime Minister Richards expressed his hopes that the results of the session will be evident in the near future. With the start of the 2016-2017 academic year already underway, Minister Richards said the Ministry intends to “capitalize on our strengths and replicate our successes while working incessantly to conquer our areas [of] weakness and promote even greater success among our students.”