Tuesday 10 December, 2019

PEP Mock Exam: Only 22% of pupils had satisfactory results in science

Ruel Reid

Ruel Reid

Only 22 per cent of students who sat the mock Primary Exit Profile (PEP) exam in June had a satisfactory result for science, according to Education Minister, Senator Ruel Reid.

“Science was our great concern,” Reid told a quarterly media briefing at his Heroes Circle office in Kingston on Wednesday.

At the same time, the Minister revealed that 48 per cent of PEP students were deemed to be satisfactory for mathematics, while 52 per cent were satisfactory for social studies. The mock exam was done to assess the readiness of teachers and students for the PEP which has replaced the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT).

Senator Reid told the media conference that although the Performance Task component of the PEP was pitched at a very high level, he was “happy to report that 83 per cent of the students actually scored satisfactory on this particular assessment.”

But, the Minister conceded that the result for the other areas were “just about average.” This is particularly worrying for Reid who has touted exposing students to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to help drive the country's development.

“As we’re trying to transition the system to STEM, we know we have some serious weaknesses in science. We are planning, as we have done with maths, to have specialists and we‘re going to proceed to engage specialist teachers to do both science and maths in our primary schools,” Reid stated.

He reiterated and argued that “I have said before we have to use more technology to give our teachers and our students greater comfort level as they explore the world of science.”

In the meantime, Minister Reid disclosed changes to the schedule for the exam.

“As of now I’m informing the country that we are changing the schedule so that the first item of the three-part item will be now done in February.”

February was the scheduled date for that aspect of the test – the Ability Test.

Reid told journalists that the Performance Task component has been moved from December 2018 to March 2019 while the Curriculum-Based Test will remain on schedule.

He said the decision to reschedule the Performance Task followed consultation with the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), whose president, Dr Garth Anderson, said in August that neither teachers nor students were ready for PEP. He warned then that it was destined for failure.

“We are very ready for the implementation but I will indicate that because we want to make sure that we take everybody on board, and everybody is comfortable, everybody is given more time, to make sure that we get it right we have to have constant dialogue with our stakeholders,” said Reid.

The PEP has three components – the Ability Test, Curriculum-Based Test and Performance Task.

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