Addressing over 300 educators at the National Public Schools Administrators’ Workshop, August 18, Minister of Education, Science and Technology the Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald set the goal of implementation of data-driven policies to focus on improving lifelong learning practices for Bahamian students. The goal aims to accelerate the current improvement of academic results, as well as take measures to assist those students who are struggling. The two-day workshop at Church of God Auditorium, Joe Farrington Road, has as its theme, ‘Re-Culturing for Quality Education.’
Minister Fitzgerald remarked, “this year, we will see the introduction of initiatives that have been discussed for more than 10 years. We will also see the introduction of some initiatives discussed for the past two years. We understand that education is a complex business. We have tried as much as possible to simplify our approach and put greater emphasis both with human and financial resources on those students who continually fall through the cracks.”
“Right now that represents 50 percent of the student population who do not graduate and leave school after 12 years with an attendance certificate. Quite frankly, that is unacceptable. Our country cannot afford either socially or financially for half of the public school students to leave school without a graduation diploma.”
He advised educators to humble themselves and accept students for who they are.
“Unlike the independent schools, the public school system does not have the luxury of choosing its students. We must take them as they are. Some socially, mentally, and even sexually broken, and some hungry and aggressive. But it is because the greatest challenge is put on the public system that the greatest opportunity also exists. That is the challenge we must embrace,” said Minister Fitzgerald.
“We must embrace that challenge by making our educational system more relevant to our national needs and more relevant to our students’ interests. We will dedicate more resources and time to that 50 percent who traditionally don’t graduate.”
The Education Ministry encourages Bahamian school administrators to work as a team in becoming familiar with and completing the Education Ministry’s initiatives in the coming year.
Minister Fitzgerald said focus will be on four areas to impact improved student achievement:
• Administrators’ Leadership Capacity and Capability
• Ongoing Teacher Training
• Continuous Parental Involvement
• Establishment of Achievement Unit Using Data to Assist with Intervention Strategies
“At the end of the day, there will be accountability up and down the system and we will use the data to hold us all accountable. The findings of the recently released BJC and BGCSE Examinations showed some positive improvements. The level of improvement in many subject areas reflected a level of increase not seen in the past five years and in some cases 10 years or more,” said Minister Fitzgerald.
“It reflected that the number of students receiving E to G grades have decreased, while the number who received A to D grades have increased. This is encouraging. I want to highlight the significant increase in the BJC math where we saw the category of A to D increase by 20 percent over last year. The average rose from an E+ last year to a D+ this year.”
Minister Fitzgerald said that in real terms this means that just over 1,500 more students attained an A to D in BJC math when compared to last year.
“We have gone back 10 years and know that this is the highest average during that time. This is really phenomenal but it is a real example of the opportunity that exists, which I spoke of earlier. I know the junior high math teachers have been very aggressive last year holding extra classes in the evenings, on weekends and holding inter-school math competitions, and having special recognition ceremonies for math students. I know because I was invited and attended two such events in New Providence,” said Minister Fitzgerald.
“The Overall increase at the BJC level in A to D passes was just under four percent and now stands at 70 percent. This means that this year 2014, there were more passes at this category when compared to last year. The 70 percent in the A to D category is again a new high for the past 10 years. Needless to say now that I know the results your schools are capable of, I will expect more and better this year.”
The Minister said that results will be given to each junior and senior high school principal to develop strategies to improve results, so that incoming grade 10 students can strengthen their weaknesses. He added that in light of the implementation of the National Standardized High School Diploma, students will have the best opportunity to successfully earn a high school diploma.
“I wish to once again publicly congratulate all of the schools that showed improvement in 2014 sitting of BJC and BGCSE, and those that did not, we will be working with you this year, so that next year we will see an improvement,” said Minister Fitzgerald.
Published Thursday, August 21, 2014