Thu | Nov 23, 2017

Education Matters | Mona High School takes lead at improving boys’ education

Published:Sunday | October 15, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Deandra Peart, teacher of home economics management (lower-school) at the Mona High School teaches a Grade 8 all-boys’ class.

Many school administrations at the primary and secondary level have been grappling with the gap between the academic performance of boys and girls. The challenge has been how to improve the performance of the boys without undercutting the attention given to girls.

The administration at the Mona High School, Kingston, in September 2016, decided to try something new to address the concerns.

Headmaster Kevin Jones created all-boys and all-girls classes from Grades 7 to 9. A committee chaired by the vice-principal for lower school Vernice Cobourne was established to track and analyse the performance of the boys.

In addition, the committee was assigned the responsibility of researching strategies on how to teach boys and improve student learning.

During the course of the first term, several workshops were held with the academic staff at Mona High on how to teach boys. Teachers were assisted with lesson planning, lesson delivery, and classroom management. Research findings on how boys learn were also shared with the teachers.

Principal Jones said that there is "great improvement in the academic performance of our boys. Data from our last major exams show higher percentage passes."

The numerical 1 represents Grade 7, 2 represents Grade 8, and 3 represents Grade 9.

 

Grade 7 Boys

 

1M 93 per cent

1O 86 per cent

1N 86 per cent

 

Grade 8 Boys

 

2M 76 per cent

2O 78 per cent

2N 76 per cent

 

Grade 9 Boys

 

3M 81 per cent

3O 71 per cent

3N 56 per cent (GNAT Grade Nine Achievement Test group)

There are three all-boys classes in each year group and the data show the percentage of boys who passed their subjects at the last major exams. For example, 93 per cent of the boys in Class 1M passed all their subjects.

There is still a long way to go. An analysis of performance by first-form students in the first term of September to December 2016, for example, showed that in all of the performance ranges, the females are performing more than 50 per cent better than the boys except in the 60-69 per cent performance range.

The school attributes the improved performance by the boys to differentiated method of teaching recognising that boys learn differently from girls. In the 70-79 per cent range, 15 girls reached that target as against four boys; in the 60-69 per cent range, 74 girls reached that target as against 43 boys; and in the 50-59 per cent range, 25 girls reached that target as against 53 boys.

To help more schools see the improvements being reported by the Mona High School, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information has been holding various workshops focused on writing lesson plans for teaching and captivating the minds of boys.

This approach is also being adapted to varying degrees at the primary level with the use of specialist mathematics coaches and literacy specialists.

Article courtesy Ministry of Education, Youth and Information