For primary school pupils, the two years leading up to the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exams are usually described as critical to their preparation.
But those who wrote this year’s exam spent most of that time away from the physical classroom, as the COVID-19 pandemic confined them to online classes.
Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly believes this attributed to their low performance this year.
“This endorses the need for the Government to have returned students to the physical classroom despite the challenges, to give them the best chance at educational success,” Gadsby-Dolly said as she spoke about the overall results.
Out of the 19,079 pupils (51 per cent male and 49 per cent female) who wrote this year’s examination, the average score for Mathematics was 41.9 per cent, in English Language Arts 44.3 per cent and in English Language Arts Writing 44.39 per cent.
This represented a reduction from 2021, she said, where the scores were Mathematics 46.9 per cent, English Language Arts 56.2 per cent and English Language Arts Writing 56.6 per cent.
“What these statistics show is a clear reduction of achievement that certainly can be linked to the learning loss which has been predicted globally and locally due to the lack of face-to-face learning,” she said.
There was also a reduction in the pupils who scored above 50 per cent this year when compared to previous years — 2022: 37.06 per cent, 2021: 52.49 per cent and 2020: 63 per cent.
Those who scored under 50 per cent increased this year to 52.6 per cent, whereas 2021 was 44.9 per cent and 2020 came in at 34.8 per cent.
Some 27.81 per cent scored below 30 per cent when compared to 2021’s 17.7 per cent and 11 per cent in 2020.
Also, 21.6 per cent of pupils passed for their first choice this year and 10.3 per cent of them have to re-sit the exam next year due to their poor performances.
A total of 0.47 per cent scored over 90 per cent. That percentage was three last year.
“Over 9,000 students have scored less than 50 per cent in the 2022 SEA,” the minister said.
To help these pupils prepare for secondary school, the ministry will run a vacation Revision Programme from July 18-August 12 at 26 secondary schools in a face-to-face format. Classes will be conducted from 9 am to 3 pm and registration runs from July 11-15 at secondary schools in the communities.
Gadsby-Dolly said the four-week programme will cost the Government $10 million and officers of the Curriculum Planning and Development Division from the ministry will train the 600 teachers needed for the programme.
This year was also the first year the SEA Results Portal was introduced and pupils were able to access their results from 12.01 am yesterday. Many pupils and their parents, in fact, opted not to go to their schools early yesterday, as has been customary in the past, to collect results as a result of having accessed them earlier online.
The minister said at the time of the press conference, the portal had 315,000 hits and no technical issues were reported. This, she said, will replace the physical collection of the results.
The Ministry of Education will also no longer announce the preliminary results for the top pupil/s for the SEA exams.
According to Gadsby-Dolly, this practice that was meant to inspire and encourage the top pupils and others has caused unhealthy competitiveness that overshadows these meritorious performances.
“The Ministry of Education is extremely concerned that this public practice now has the potential to cause our young scholars to be placed under undue pressure to secure a high ranking in the SEA examination,” she said.
Gadsby-Dolly said the public top pupil announcement has been disfigured by changing societal attitudes into a practice that now produces great anxiety, negativity and mental distress for children.
She said from now on, the ranking list of SEA scores will only be finalised after the review period has elapsed and can be privately requested upon written request to the ministry. The review period will end in mid-August and queries can be submitted by July 9.