Efforts are on to raise the level of Mathematics teaching and related grades at the examination level.

Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ronald Jones, disclosed this today as he addressed a press conference that looked at the performance of students in this year???s Barbados Secondary Schools??? Entrance Examination (BSSEE).

Acknowledging that his Ministry had to spend some time improving the quality of Mathematics at some schools, Minister Jones said that over the next year or so, there would be a continuing programme of re-engaging teachers in how to deliver Mathematics at the primary level more dynamically and more assertively so that some challenges encountered by students in that area would disappear over time.

???Mathematics, itself, is not a difficult subject area. The concepts must be taught and reinforced, making it possible for students to like Mathematics. It is part of the push that we are now engaged in – Maths, Science and Technology as engines of national development.

???And, so we know we have to start at the base. So, teachers can prepare themselves for workshops, over the next year or two, led by very competent deliverers of Mathematics within the school system,??? Mr. Jones explained.

The Education Minister added that his Ministry would also look at some specialisation at the level of the primary school to ensure students receive ???the best teachers in the teaching of mathematics???.

And, he noted too there had been some offers from very competent Maths persons, who had retired. ???We are going to bring them on board as well to go out into our schools, work with our teachers and lift the standard up. We can???t be satisfied that the mean is as it is ??? either in the male or female or overall [category],??? said Mr. Jones.

He stressed that though the BSSEE was a placement test, it gave the Ministry the opportunity ???to dig down and open the envelope wider??? to achieve these adjustments in Maths scores.

???We want to make a greater leap forward in Mathematics teaching and student success,??? said Mr. Jones, while disclosing that challenges in this examination related more to measurement and decimals and these would be looked at in the holistic programme that would address issues with Mathematics.

The overall National Mean in Mathematics for this year BSSEE was 57.6 per cent, up from 2013 when it stood at 55.4 per cent. The National Mean in Mathematics was higher for females, standing at 60.41, against that of 54.79 for males. There were 22 top students in Mathematics, all receiving 100 and coming from both public and private primary schools.

Speaking on the performance of students, Mr. Jones said both males and females improved marginally in 2014, but there needed to be a solid foundation in Mathematics teaching with assessment ??? whether a test or exam – reflecting upward trends.

???There has been a high level of consistency across the setting of the paper over the last five or so years. So, there is really no shock or surprise in the paper. It is really the application; the teaching and the constant repetition so that children fully understand and that they can appreciate as much practice as possible in reaching the standards that we expect.

And, therefore, over the next two to three years, we want to see the mean move from what we currently have, [that is] below 60 per cent, to anywhere around 70 per cent and higher,??? noted the Minister.


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