Education Minister Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said there was a decrease in performance in all three subjects in the SEA examinations between 2020 and 2021. She said the effect of student absence from covid19 could not be ignored.
Speaking at the SEA 2021 recognition ceremony on Thursday at the Ministry of Education on St Vincent Street, Port of Spain, Gadsby-Dolly said examination of the mean raw scores for SEA 2021 showed decreases in performance in mathematics by six per cent, English language arts by 4.1 per cent, and writing by 0.8 per cent.
In 2020, the average score in mathematics was 52.9, compared to 46.9 in 2021. In English language arts, the scores were 60.7 and 56.6 respectively, and in writing they were 57 and 56.2.
Also of note was that while 1.4 per cent more students scored over 90 per cent than in 2020, 6.7 per cent more students scored under 30 per cent.
“Though further analysis will be done into the distribution of scores and the performance of students, as is customary, the effect of student absence from the physical classroom over the past 18 months cannot be ignored as a contributing factor to a decline in performance, notwithstanding the mitigation efforts of parents, teachers, administrators, corporate T&T and the Ministry of Education.
“The continued absence from the physical classroom, as predicted, will contribute to a reduction in average student performance as well as a widening of the achievement gap, and not only for SEA 2021. This is part of the global learning loss phenomenon which has been spoken of widely.”
Gadsby-Dolly said the ministry had put a number of measures in place to ensure educational continuity, especially for examination students.
“These included providing over 6,500 devices for teachers to carry out online classes; providing training for teachers in online delivery and other relevant areas for upskilling; reducing the number of test items and specifying the type of writing for the SEA, and providing specimen papers for practice; providing all students of Standard 5 who were identified as not being online with devices and connectivity courtesy Digicel, Bmobile and TATT; providing the opportunity for psychosocial counselling and emotional support online; the procurement of 20,000 devices which have been distributed to all successful applicants of the Means Test; Wifi projects to extend service throughout the school plant in 55 rural primary schools and 134 secondary schools, of which 25 schools have been completed thus far, and continuing; and the procurement of 10,000 mifi devices for distribution which should begin next week.”
In a release, the ministry said that 19,544 children sat the SEA exam this year, 343 more than in 2020.
It said the assessment framework was modified in 2021 in recognition of the difficulties experienced by students and teachers owing to the necessary closure of physical school during the covid19 Pandemic.
“There was a reduction in the number of items in the Mathematics and English Language Arts assessments and the type of writing for the English Language Arts Writing assessment was provided to schools beforehand. The time allotted for the assessment as well as the placement criteria remained the same.”
It said students were assigned to secondary schools based on the established placement policy, which comprised of six criteria: order of merit, choice of school, gender, principals’ 20 per cent selection, residence, and, multiple birth.
“Students born after August 31, 2008 and whose average score was 30 per cent or less but who had not previously sat the SEA will be required to repeat the year and re-sit the SEA in 2022. Students who attained a composite weighted standard score of 30 per cent or below, and who were born before August 31, 2008 or who were doing the assessment for a second time were placed in a secondary school based on choice of school or residence.”