The numbers game we may do without
MINISTER?OF?EDUCATION RONALD?JONES is pleased that there has been continuing improvement in maths scores of the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination, or, as it is more known as, 11-Plus Exam. But he suffers a niggling discomfort.
He and his ministry remain concerned about “students at the lower end”, in particular those 722 who scored below 30 per cent in the 11-Plus mathematics test this year.
Sadly, marks earned below 30 started from zero.
This would be a worry anywhere. And Minister Jones has sought to assure us that his ministry is determined to find out just why students would be scoring way below half marks in a national test, prepared for in a decade or more.
Mr Jones proffers that there might be a myriad of reasons, “some of them . . . emotional issues; there might be other health-related issues; there could be learning deficiencies, dyslexia [and] there might be hearing or certain visual issues”.
Without doubt, any of the conditions above could put paid to the success of a primary school child on exam day. But how far beyond conjecture are Mr Jones’ possibilities?
Indeed, only a study and profound analysis will bring us anywhere near fact and actuality.
And so we are comforted that the Ministry of Education is committed to establishing the whys and wherefores of this unsettling state of affairs amidst our very young. And we will hold Minister of Education Jones to his vow.
Still, what happens to members of this group whose problem or challenge falls without the scope of disadvantage Mr Jones has identified?
As importantly, what has happened to those under-30 per cent maths scorers in the two years before? And what has been their performance since their 11-Plus Day challenge?
Also, what is so special about the figure 30? What about those who obtained more than 30 but not enough to achieve what could reasonably be called satisfactory performance? The unspoken truth behind the national mean of 58.72 that the minister offered could be cause for national worry too.
Mr Jones has suggested that despite the “lower end” concern, there had been great improvement in the teaching of mathematics in our schools, and that the attitude of charges towards the subject had changed substantially.
The minister has attributed some of this development to “exposure” of our schoolchildren to “technologies in their work environment”. We wonder.