‘More testing must produce higher marks’

  • Minister of Education and Workforce Development Diallo Rabain (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Minister of Education and Workforce Development Diallo Rabain (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

More investment in pupil testing must produce higher marks, the education minister said last week.

Diallo Rabain said: “As we continue to invest in Cambridge Assessments it is with the understanding that our results for these assessments must improve.”

Mr Rabain was speaking as MPs debated the Education and Workforce Development Budget on Friday at the House of Assembly.

He said that all schools would have to introduce “strategies and initiatives to improve Cambridge Checkpoint and IGCSE results for English, math and science, with an added focus on improving results for mathematics”.

Mr Rabain said that two Cambridge consultants had visited the island last week to examine delivery of the curriculum to pupils.

He said: “Professional development activities for enhancing the quality of teaching mathematics will also be delivered by the Cambridge representatives.”

Mr Rabain added that a “comprehensive plan” would be developed focused on improvements to maths teaching.

He said that the public would be updated on progress.

Mr Rabain said the Department of Education and “school leaders” would support the delivery of “data-driven, professional learning at the school level”.

He added: “Professional learning experiences will include standard-based grading, formative assessments, project-based learning, teaching of mathematics at the primary, middle and senior school levels and inquiry-based learning and teaching strategies goal training for the preschool level.”

Grant Gibbons, the Shadow Minister of Economic Development, said maths problems in Bermuda had reached a “crisis” point.

He added: “This issue of how you teach math and how teachers do a better job of doing that, seems to me pretty important at this particular point in time.”

Dr Gibbons highlighted the view of Sergio Pitcher, founder of tutoring service Planet Math, who said that student problems with maths were nothing new.

He added: “Indeed, that’s the case but it seems to me, based on my memory, that the math situation has deteriorated somewhat over the last few years.

“It’s always been an issue in some of the schools but I think it’s obviously reached, one might say, almost crisis proportions.”

Dr Gibbons said it was important to start teaching basic maths from a “very early age”.

He said that work should have begun earlier to improve Cambridge Checkpoint results.

Dr Gibbons added: “So, obviously, a number of governments have to take some responsibility.”

But he said that it was a “good decision by a former Progressive Labour Party government to get an internationally recognised curriculum in place”.

Dr Gibbons added: “But since it’s there, we have to make the best use out of it.”

The Bermuda public school system is in its seventh year of the Cambridge examinations at Primary 6, Middle 3 and Senior 2.

The 2017 Bermuda public school system report released last month showed that P6 and M3 students failed to meet a Department of Education target set for maths of 3.0 — equivalent to a C grade.

The results of the International General Certificate of Secondary Education examinations sat by senior-level students last year were also published.

They showed that only 18 per cent of the 445 students who took the maths examination scored a C grade or better.

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Published Mar 14, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Mar 14, 2018 at 7:45 am)

‘More testing must produce higher marks’

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