A call for action to address performance in English and Mathematics

The performance of candidates in the May/June 2012 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) on English A and Mathematics examinations has resulted in a call for action in the region to address deficiencies in the two core subjects.
This year, 33 per cent of the entries for Mathematics achieved Grades I – III. This compared with the, 35 per cent in 2011 and 41 per cent in 2010.
The Subject Awards Committee (SAC) said it was “deeply concerned about the quality of work produced by candidates at this level.”
“Topics such as the range, perimeter, and profit and loss that should be covered at the lower secondary level were not fully understood,” the SAC reported.
The SAC has called on the region to address the issue of teaching and performance in Mathematics by re-organising its Mathematics programme, supporting teacher training and facilitating access to instructional resources.

Performance on English A declined significantly this year. Forty-seven per cent of the entries achieved Grades I – III compared with 67 per cent in 2011.
The Subject Awards Committee attributed the decline to less than satisfactory performance on the Essay Paper. The SAC noted that this decline was most obvious in the summary and comprehension questions.
The SAC has suggested that “teaching of the language must enable students to move away from prescribed and rehearsed answers seen in some questions, to the point where they can effectively and appropriately use rhetorical devices that enrich expression and facilitate comprehension.”
On English B, performance also declined when compared with 2011. This year, 68 per cent of entries achieved acceptable grades, compared with 71 per cent in 2011.

Class in session
Class in session

The SAC reported that candidates’ performance fell mainly on the Poetry Profile, which affected the overall performance. Performance on the other two Profiles; Drama and Prose Fiction remained stable.
Dr Didacus Jules, Registrar of CXC outlined some measures CXC is implementing to address the issue of unsatisfactory performance in the two subjects:

•    The establishment of an expert workinggroup to recommend comprehensive changes in the teaching, learning and assessment of Mathematics

•    Encouraging Participating Countries to use CCSLC Mathematics as a foundation programme for developing the competencies for mastery of Mathematics

• Providing teacher training in
more effective syllabus delivery and SBA management

•   Strengthening of the Mathematics content on its free interactive online portal www. notesmaster.com

•   Providing study guides in core subject areas in CSEC and CAPE including Mathematics, published in collaboration with Nelson Thornes

Overall performance in the May/June examination declined when compared with the last year. This year, 62 per cent of the candidate entries achieved Grades I – III, this compared with 66 per cent in 2011. Of the 62 per cent achieving acceptable grades, 11.30 gained Grade I, 22.39 gained Grade II and 28.46 per cent gained Grade III.
Thirty-five subjects were offered for the May/June examination this year, including Additional Mathematics which was offered for the first time.
The most improved performances were seen on Electrical and Electronic Technology and Mechanical Engineering Technology. Sixty-five per cent of entries for Electrical and Electronic Technology achieved acceptable grades, this compares very favourably with the 44 per cent which achieved the same grades in 2011, representing a 21 per cent improvement. For Mechanical Engineering Technology, there was a 13 per cent improvement, with 69 per cent achieving Grades I – III compared with 56 per cent last year.
There was a six per cent improvement in performance on Integrated Science, with 80 per cent of entries achieving acceptable grades compared with 74 per cent in 2011.
Clothing and Textiles also registered improved performance this year. Eighty-six per cent of entries achieved acceptable grades compared with 81 per cent last year.
Forty per cent of the entries for Information Technology achieved Grade I and 31.42 per cent achieved Grade II. This combined for an overall improved performance this year when compared with 2011. Overall, 83 per cent of the entries gained acceptable grades compared with 79 per cent last year.
Electronic Document Preparation and Management (EDPM) and Theatre Arts saw a three and four per cent improvement in performance respectively. In the case of EDPM, performance improved from 85 per cent last year to 88 per cent this year, while Theatre Arts, performance improved from 87 per cent in 2011 to 91 per cent this year.
Both Principles of Business and Physics registered a two per cent improvement in performance. For Principles of Business, performance improved from 78 per cent in 2011 to 80 per cent this year; while for Physics, performance improved from 74 per cent in 2011 to 76 per cent this year. Twenty per cent of the entries for Physics achieved Grade I.
Physics was the only natural science subject with improved performance this year – 80 per cent compared with 78 per cent last year. In the case of Chemistry, 58 per cent of entries achieved acceptable grades compared with 64 per cent in 2011.
Physical Education and Sport was the best performing subject overall, with 97 per cent of the entries achieving acceptable grades, the same level of performance as in 2011 and 2010. Forty-seven per cent of entries for PES achieved Grade I.

Both candidate entries and subject entries continue to grow, both registering just over a two per cent increase. Candidate entries stood at 156,968, compared with 153,120 candidates in 2011.
This year, 637,510 subject entries were submitted compared with 610,713 entries in 2011. Mathematics continues to be the subject with the largest entries – 105,872, English A has 101,032; Social Studies 55,896; Principles of Business 38, 461 and Human and Social Biology 35,100 entries.

Reprinted from
The Caribbean Examiner
Volume 10   No 2  October 2012

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