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Friday 23 August 2019
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Letters to the Editor

Concordat, stress and difficulty of SEA exam

THE EDITOR: It is really quite easy to predict the headlines at certain times of the year, including for the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) results. This year was no exception.

The ongoing debate has been largely about the degree of difficulty of the exam, the level of stress on our children, the Concordant, the so-called prestige schools at both primary and secondary levels.

Any exam should be at a level slightly above the one to be assessed. In so doing, the student is called upon to look beyond and beneath the surface of what is being tested and, often enough, determines the results. It is to be borne in mind the top student was able to obtain near full marks.

On the question of the level of stress, I note the involvement of parents and their anxiety as contributory to this pressure on the children. This is certainly a matter for the National Parent-Teacher Association to address but theirs has been nothing but a deafening silence.

Likewise, TTUTA should be able to get the membership duly trained to assist these parents and improve the schools.

The school has a definite role to play in this question of undue stress.

Listening to the first-place student, one would have noted she did not complain but rather advised that students find time, as she did, to play.

The Concordant is again being, to a certain extent, seen as a problem. Since the State has gotten the use of the denominational schools at no cost and as a partner, should they not be allowed to maintain the denominational nature of their schools, which is the agreement and purpose of that arrangement?

It must be noted that this was discussed at a recent consultation on education and was not contested.

On the question of “prestige schools” at the primary level, these are more performing schools that have made excellence a part of the culture of the schools.

Often we see schools only interested in the Standard Five class with insufficient attention to the lower levels. The SEA is intended to “test some of the skills you have been learning ever since you first started attending school,” as was written on the test booklets in the days of the Common Entrance.

Finally, for now, the question of another form of assessment is still evasive as so many experts indulge in a general statement without any meaningful or, I dare say, workable solution.

LENNOX SIRJUESINGH

retired principal

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