For students to gain the top secondary school of their choice they must simply make the marks, said Harrilal Seecharan, chief education officer at the Education Ministry. He was responding to queries by scores of parents that despite their children scoring high marks they were not placed at one of the four schools of their choice. Seecharan was speaking at a press briefing at the ministry at St Clair, Port-of-Spain, yesterday to address concerns about this year’s Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exams results and the scoring of the Continuous Assessment Component (CAC) which accounts for 20 per cent of the final marks.
The results were announced last Wednesday and there have been several complaints from parents about school placement for students. “The placement of schools is really based on the overall score that the student got so if the score required to get into the school that the student chose... those top scores were higher that what the student obtained, then they would fall out,” said Seecharan. Students must score 95 per cent to achieve their first choice, he added. Seecharan said the placement process was automated so as to prevent students from being handpicked for top schools. Saying this placement module was developed and overseen by a regional body, CXC, Seecharan added: “So that it is really based on the score that the student got and how many students would be taken into the school at that time and so the process runs down. “We don’t manually go in and place students.”
Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh, speaking at the same event, said the mean score in this year’s SEA for mathematics was 61.3 per cent, language arts 59.8 per cent and creative writing 65.8 per cent. This represented a higher score than that of last year, he added. The mean score for the three new areas — science, drama and character and citizenship — which were introduced for the first time as part of the continuous assessment component was 88.2 per cent. Gopeesingh said 18,239 students sat the exam this year as compared to 18,036 last year. He said the number of boys writing had almost been the same except for “one or two hundred more writing the exam every year” because more boys had to repeat than girls. The minister said of the students placed in the first 200, there were 67 boys and 133 girls. “This is significant, he said, and also noted: “We had 69 schools accounting for the first 200 students as opposed to, at one time, 41 schools. “So we are having more primary schools gaining places in the first 200 across the country. The results have been very comforting in terms of the performance of our students.” He said this year, the percentage of students who scored above 50, 60 and 90 per cent was the highest for the period 2010-2014, and conversely, “the percentage of students who attained a score 30 per cent or below in 2014 was the lowest for the period 2010 to 2014.”