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BUT backs Cambridge system

Scores from an annual pupil assessment should be used to guide maths teaching in public schools, the head of the teachers' union said yesterday.

Shannon James, the president of the Bermuda Union of Teachers, said that the results of the Cambridge Checkpoint assessment “should be used to move the system in a certain direction”.

Mr James added: “Out of this ,there needs to be action steps, a concise plan, professional development, coaches, funding and resources to ensure that our maths competency improves.”

He was speaking after it was revealed last week that a third of public primary schools were ranked as poor in maths based on average pupil scores on the Cambridge Checkpoint assessments for 2015 to 2017.

Mr James said it was “sad” that the results of the annual assessments had “become something of a political debate”.

He added: “The test itself is diagnostic — it is a doctor's visit, per se.”

Mr James said that a plan had been developed in 2015 and that there was a team of subject specialists, including a maths specialist, who had been “making strides in implementing a concerted maths effort”.

He added: “That programme was cut and the content specialists were disbanded.

“Too many times we chop and change with programmes when we need to let this diagnostic test guide us into the direction that we need to go and follow up with a concerted effort to ensure that excellence in delivered. We have the expertise; we need to ensure that it is put to use and that we do what needs to be done to improve our math skills.”

The detailed Cambridge Checkpoint results were released after a public access to information request from The Royal Gazette. Bermuda's annual assessment rates Primary 6 pupils on English, maths and science.

The Cambridge system uses scores from 0, ranked “very poor”, to 6, graded “excellent”.

The Pati request asked for the average pupil score, by school, in the three subject categories.

The average pupil score in each of the three subject areas in each year was added together and divided by three to get the average pupil score over the three-year period. The exercise found that the average pupil score in maths at six of the island's 18 primary schools scored below 2 — labelled “poor”.

The results of the 2018 and 2019 Checkpoint exams have not been released publicly, but were sought in the Pati request.

A Department of Education employee said this week “that the information is unavailable until in has been released by the minister”. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Education earlier said that the results for both years would be released next month.

Cole Simons, the Shadow Minister of Education, said that he understood that the results of the 2018 and 2019 assessments had been given to some principals and teachers.

Mr Simons said it was “bizarre” that the results had not been made public by Diallo Rabain, the education minister.

He added: “Given that we are now at the beginning of the 2019/20 school year, one would have thought that we should have the 2018 and 2019 Checkpoint results in full and published by now.”

Mr Simons said that it was “crucial” that pupils and teachers “know where they stand”.

He added: “The longer the Minister of Education delays the complete release of these assessment results, the more our students' performance is possibly compromised and the more they are left behind.”

Mr Simons said that Mr Rabain would deserve praise if the test results showed pupil improvement.

He added: “If the performance results are not as positive as they ought to be, the minister should use this as an opportunity to address the areas which need support, and also, give our teachers the tools required for them to produce student plans, and teaching tools and resources, which will enable them to secure improved student outcomes, and place them on par with their international colleagues.”

See editorial page 4

Bermuda has the expertise: Shannon James, the president of the Bermuda Union of Teachers, gives a speech on the steps at City Hall at the union's 100th anniversary celebrations in February

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Published September 06, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated September 06, 2019 at 8:01 am)

BUT backs Cambridge system

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