Public schools have ‘room for improvement’
Teaching standards in middle schools have been identified as “the weakness in our system”, Education Minister Nalton Brangman said.
However, Sen Brangman pointed out that reforms of the Island's middle schools are currently underway — and he commended those students who had “stepped up” to sit IGCSEs early.
According to Senator Brangman, 91 percent, or 1,090 of the 1,204 reported grades, were A through G — up two percent on last year.
The number of A to C grades held steady on last year, at 28 percent.
For the latest senior year graduates, 227 students, or 96 percent, left school with a grade-point average of 2.0 (70 percent) or more — also a two percent rise on last year.
Added Sen Brangman: “The 2012/13 school year marked the third year of administering Cambridge International Examinations across the primary, middle and senior levels of the Bermuda public school system in English, maths and science.”
Maths and science had the poorest IGCSE showing, with 19 percent and 18 percent of students getting grades of C and above for those subjects.
Assessing performance in the other school levels, Sen Brangman said Cambridge International uses a six-point scale to rank students' performance.
The Ministry had set a performance indicator for 80 percent of middle school students to score at three or above on the scale — indicating a “sound” understanding of most of the curriculum content.
In the middle schools, 23 percent reached level three or above in English, 27 percent in maths, and 49 percent in science. It showed a 15 percent increase over the previous year.
For primary schools, 61 percent reached level three or above in English, 45 percent in maths and 62 percent in science.
Public schools thus showed improvement, but fell short of performance targets at the M3 and P6 checkpoints, Sen Brangman said.
Education Commissioner Edmond Heatley joined the Minister in announcing the graduation and Cambridge International Examination results.
The 96 percent showing by senior school students was hailed as “impressive” by Dr Heatley.
“But we're not satisfied with that,” he added.
Reforming education in Bermuda was a matter of keeping what was right, and “dissecting” what didn't work, he said.
Dr Heatley said he wasn't fazed by questions of how a freshly-hired US educator could be expected navigate Bermuda's the British-based Cambridge curriculum.
“A standard is a standard, no matter how it's written,” he said.
Bermuda is the only public school system that requires all its students to sit IGCSEs.
Conceding there was room for improvement, Dr Heatley added: “We have no time to waste.”
With the public school system on a five-year track for reform by 2015, the Commissioner said Bermuda could expect to see “marked improvements” in standards in 12 to 18 months.
Females continue to perform better than males. Of the 217 students who graduated with the Bermuda School Certificate, 94 were male and 123 female; 17 females graduated with honours, versus three males.