It’s heartening that the Education Minister will continue meetings with stakeholders on issues arising from the first full term of school in two years.
Dr Gadsby-Dolly has said a post-mortem review of issues arising from the school term will follow up on a meeting with stakeholders that took place a month into the term.
She also explained that weekly data is collected from schools and that information will be shared with stakeholders during that end-of-term discussion.
But if information about teacher and student attendance, school violence, indiscipline and school feeding are compiled on a weekly basis, why hasn’t the ministry moved on to running pattern analysis on the raw information to design its responses to developing issues?
More than 100 schools have infrastructure issues, and several experienced sewer issues after a week of full attendance.
It’s not just data related to school infrastructure after reopening that has found a cosy and undisturbed home at the Education Ministry. Information about covid19 infection in schools was an unnecessary secret until the Health Ministry responded to calls in May from concerned parents for it to be shared.
A joint select committee on human rights in November 2019, revealed that 2,281 students dropped out of school between 2014 and 2019.
JSC member Prof Jerome De Lisle of the UTT’s Centre of Education suggested that male students lose a sense of connectedness in schools and find it in gangs.
The Education Minister wondered if these dropouts increased the prison population.
Why isn’t available data used to verify these notions?
This country’s aversion to the analysis of hard data and continued preference for making decisions based on emotional judgement and political advantage, instead of proven evidence, has no place in our education system.
Schools exist to instruct students in the use of analytical tools like maths and comprehension; yet when it comes to actually running these institutions, too many questions can’t be answered by their operational numbers. Some of the data that’s sloshing around in the Education Ministry might pinpoint trends in both education success and failure that might guide institutional and individual remedy.
TT also won’t be able to shed the recurring stress testing of SEA and CSEC until there is a serious commitment to the spottily administered continuous assessment system as a method for understanding student development. That won’t happen until the information gathered by continuous testing can be aggregated and analysed to understand the performance of individual students in the classroom and used to support weak students and underperforming teachers.
Evidence-based administration should continuously guide the work of the Education Ministry—it should not have to wait for an end-of-term and in fact end-of-year post-mortem.