Minister of Education, Ronald Jones,??discusses??the 11-Plus results at a press conference yesterday at the Elsie Payne Complex.?? Also??pictured, Education Officer, Glyne Price.??(A.Miller/BGIS)??

Efforts are ongoing to determine the myriad reasons why each year, some children score well below 30 per cent or even zero in the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination (BSSEE), familiarly called the 11-Plus.

This was revealed yesterday by Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones as he announced the year’s results to the media in a press conference at the Elsie Payne Complex.

While explaining that the Ministry had seen continuous improvement in Mathematics over the past three years, he pointed out that results had indicated that between 18 and 20 per cent had scored below 30% in this subject.?? This figure, he noted, stood at 722 students out of the 3,970.

Minister Jones emphasised that it was necessary to determine why these students were falling below 30 per cent. He said: "We have to find out why because there could be many reasons which would cause those students to have severe cognitive defects. Some of them could be emotional and psychological issues; there might be other health-related issues; there could be issues of learning deficiencies, dyslexia [and] there might be hearing or certain visual issues."

And, he gave the assurance that the Ministry would work assiduously over the next month to address the problem. "We are going to apply ourselves to see if we can source the resources to carry out quite an extensive analysis of those 722 students. We need to know what is happening at that level and therefore we have started it here at the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development."

He said although 722 students (18.2%) represented a decline over 2011 where this figure stood at 19.4 per cent, ???a little decline’ was not enough for the Ministry.

"In the Ministry… we want to see even greater lowering of that number in order for us to feel comfortable.?? It is still a lot even though it is 18.2 per cent and it is creeping down. We want to make the great leap forward. We know this will take time as we apply all the various methodologies and [do] all of the assessments to understand why this continues to happen in our education system," Mr. Jones maintained.

This year, the raw scores in Mathematics ranged between one and 100 for males and for females from zero to 100 which indicated that no male received zero but one female got zero percent in this subject.

The overall National Mean in Mathematics was 58.72 as compared with 60.92 in 2011 and 51.4 in 2010, indicating a 2.19 per cent decrease in 2012 over 2011.

The performance for both boys and girls declined marginally in 2012 over 2011. For females it was 62.12 per cent in 2012 as compared with 65.18 in 2011, a decrease of 3.06 while for males in 2012, the figure was 55.53 as compared to 56.83 in 2011, a slight decline of 1.30 percentage points.??

The Minister noted that 25 schools performed above the National Mean.?? As he explained why the mean was not higher, he said while children demonstrated above average knowledge of the basic concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplying and dividing there were still some challenges with students understanding some of the mathematical concepts.????

He revealed while performance was above the 50 per cent mark in Section Two of the paper, there was still some concern as some students were "not demonstrating mastery of the comprehension skills" that are necessary for this section which then?? had the tendency to "spill over" into Section Three, where the overall average is?? less than 50 per cent. This section calls for students to apply knowledge and skills in order to solve real world situations.

Despite the problems identified, the Minister attributed the improvement in Mathematics to improvements in the teaching of the subject. He also surmised that over the past two years or so there had been a change in students’ attitude towards Mathematics.

"I guess some of that can also come from exposure to some of the available technologies in their work environment. And, if we are able to define that as a contributor it would say that students need to spend more time utilising the technologies that are in the schools and in their homes; utilising the software in the teaching to understand the concepts from the basic computational Mathematic," he said.


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