Prep B students to pilot continuous assessment system
-first of three exams in June
Stabroek News
March 2, 2003

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The current batch of Prep B or Level 2 primary school pupils will in June 2003 be piloting an examination called 'Grade Two assessment, representing the first test in a set of three intended to replace the Secondary Schools En-trance Examination (SSEE) by 2007.

In a circular dated January 2 addressed to senior education officers and head teachers, Chief Education Officer Ed Caesar said that the Prep B students' second major assessment will be in 2005 and the final one in 2007.

Caesar said that by that time, "the secondary schools programmes would have been so reformed that the typical neighbourhood secondary school would offer a variety of options in its overall curriculum."

Minister of Education, Dr Henry Jeffrey, had previously explained to the media that when the current Prep B pupils are finally assessed in 2007 the SSEE also known as the `Common Entrance' would have been completely phased out.

In the circular Caesar said that the Ministry of Education "is making every effort to ensure that the performance of pupils is so carefully monitored that weaknesses in their academic development are identified and addressed promptly."

He said that it was in the light of this, that assessments at Prep B, Primary 2 (Grade 4) and Primary 4 (Grade 6) were being introduced. The sum total of the results of the assessment exercise at the above-stated grade levels would inform placement at the secondary level.

"The weighting in relation to the assessment at the three Grades is as follows - Grade 2-20%, Grade 4- 40%, Grade 6- 40%", Caesar said.

The Grade 2 assessment is diagnostic in nature and will be based on the Levels 1 and 2 Curriculum Guides, Caesar said, adding that head teachers were expected to hold meetings with their Grade Two teachers before and after the assessment exercise.

These meetings are to ensure that the most appropriate strategies for the correction of observed weaknesses can be applied at the school level, and that suggestions for improving the exercise can be analysed, recorded and appropriate recommendations made to the central ministry.

In June, the pupils will be assessed in English Language and Mathematics. The specific areas to be assessed in English Language are: Read-ing and Poetry, Comprehension, Composition and Gram-mar. The specific areas to be assessed in Mathematics are Notation, Mechanics and Problem Solving.

Head teachers are expected to inform parents and other supporters of the schools about the Grade Two Assessment.

Headteachers, when the assessment reports are available, must advise parents on the several inputs that could be made to foster improved performance as well Caesar said.

The National Centre for Educational Resource Development will be responsible for the administration of all the elements of the 'Assessment' exercise. This will include the setting of papers, the marking of scripts and reporting on the results.

Based on the assessment, Caesar said that placement at the secondary level will be more efficient as the majority of students will be placed in schools in their catchment areas based on their performance. Just a few exceptional high achievers will be placed in some 16 secondary schools across the country based on their performance. The year 2006, Caesar said, will therefore be the final year for the SSEE.

He also said that the Ministry of Education is currently embracing programmes which would make universal secondary education a reality and to this end, the teaching-learning environment of secondary schools will be enhanced. Teachers would be exposed to training, which would equip them to deliver the curriculum more effectively.

Additional information for schools in the form of regulations will be provided by the Examinations Division of the Ministry of Education, Caesar concluded. (Miranda La Rose)

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