Minister of Education, Santia Bradshaw announcing the results of this year’s Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination at the Ministry of Education today. She is joined by Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education, Senator Dr. Romel Springer and Chief Education Officer, Karen Best. (Photo: MRD – A.Olton)

Two private schools – St. Gabriel’s and The People’s Cathedral Primary – have secured the top students in this year’s Barbados Secondary Schools Entrance Examination (BSSEE).

Brandon Squires, who hails from The People’s Cathedral Primary School, is the top boy in the exam, popularly known as the Common Entrance Examination.

He scored 100 in Mathematics and 97 in English. His overall score is 242.96, with an ‘A’ in Composition.  He will be headed to Queen’s College come September.

Adriel Bayrd of St. Gabriel’s is the top girl, with 99 in Mathematics and 97 in English.  She has an overall score of 242.43 and a ‘C’ in Composition. That score will take her to Harrison College at the start of the new school year.

Brandon was among the 35 students – 22 males and 13 females – who had a perfect score of 100 in Mathematics in this year’s BSSEE.  This was up from ten students last year.

However, while lauding those students on their exemplary performance in the subject, the minister pointed out that six male students scored zero in Mathematics and there was a “slight decline” in the national mean in Mathematics this year, compared to last year.  The national mean for 2019 is 61.58, while it was 62.46 in 2018, and 55.0 in 2017.

“Although there has been a significant increase in the number of students scoring 100 per cent in 2019 over 2018, the overall performance of students in the top percentile (70 to 100) remained consistent at 47.9 per cent.

However, fewer students scored between 30 and 69, a decline which has resulted in a 1.8 per cent increase in the number of students who scored below 30.  This remains a major cause of concern,” Ms. Bradshaw surmised in her report.

The minister further pointed out that an analysis of student performance in the Mathematics paper revealed that too many students demonstrated that they have not mastered basic mathematical concepts.

According to her, a vast majority of the students continue to demonstrate their inability to apply knowledge and skill to solve real problems in Section 3 of the paper; and females continue to demonstrate a higher level of understanding of basic mathematical concepts than males.

“It is therefore pertinent to identify the influence of the teacher – student relationship on student performance in Mathematics. Determining the nature of the school environment, where teaching is practised and examining the influence of school management on teaching and learning Mathematics is also of importance.

“Greater emphasis needs to be place on the enhancement of the quality of instruction, as well as provided the tools and resources for teachers to deliver differentiated instruction based on student needs. Equally, an investigation of those schools, which perform consistently at a high level, may reveal useful data that can be shared across the system,” the Education Minister said.

Students taking the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination. (FP)

She said an analysis of student performance on the English paper suggested that while students are improving in their understanding of discrete grammatical and vocabulary concepts in Section A of the English paper, more students were struggling in Section B, the free response section of the paper.

Ms. Bradshaw added that for the past three years, a high percentage of students consistently scored only one mark in the free response section of the English paper, instead of the full two marks allocated.

This, she explained, suggested that while students had a general understanding of the content of the text, they were not answering the questions in a grammatically correct manner.

“Greater emphasis needs to be placed on developing students’ use of functional grammar. This can be done by incorporating more opportunities for oral expression in the classroom through meaningful discussions, oral presentations, interviews and questioning, among others,” she said.

In addition to Brandon and Adriel, there were nine other top performers in the BSSEE overall.

They are: Danielle Wickham of Wills Private School, who scored 242.24 ‘B’ and will be going to Queen’s College; Joshua Connell of St. Gabriel’s School – 241.71 ‘B’ – Harrison College; Janika Walcott of Lawrence T. Gay Primary School – 241.52 ‘A’ – Queen’s College; Zaria Hintzen of Charles F. Broome Primary School – 241.52 ‘A’ – Harrison College; Sheann Gibbons of Belleville Grammar School – 241.23 ‘C’ – Harrison College; Arielle Thompson of Trinity Academy – 241.18 ‘A’ – Queen’s College; Arianne Blades of Christ Church Girls School – 240.99 ‘A’ – Queen’s College; Zahara Diagne of Good Shepherd Primary School – 240.99 ‘A’ – Harrison College; and Charlee Collins of St. Winifred’s School – 240.99 ‘C’ – The St. Michael School.

There were also three early sitters, two of whom scored perfect marks in Mathematics. They are: Janae Forde-Blenman of Christ Church Girls’ School – 240.79 ‘A’ – Queen’s College; David Humphrey of St. Cyprian’s Boys’ School – 229.17 ‘A’ – Christ Church Foundation School; and Daniel Wickham of Wills Private School, who scored 242.24 ‘B’, and will be headed to Queen’s College.

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