UPDATED: All in place for GSAT despite constraints
Except for issues regarding a number of students who deferred in the last sitting of the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT), Kandi-Lee Crooks-Smith, principal at Allman Town Primary School in , believes all is in place for her students to sit the exam next week Thursday and Friday.
In giving her perspective on student preparedness at a GSAT press conference held at the education ministry in Kingston yesterday, Crooks-Smith said teachers were working assiduously to make sure that students are ready.
"One of the challenges we have, though, is because we had so many students who repeated last year and not having additional resources, that has been a bit of a challenge for our teachers because the class sizes were huge," she said.
"However, with the new terms in place by the ministry, we were able to prevent the mass repeats this year. We were able to tell parents not to keep back children because they are not 'ready' but send the child (to sit the exam) because provisions have been made at the high-school level for these students. This year we only have two who have deferred for humanitarian reasons," she told The Gleaner.
...Parents making children sit out exam; want name-brand schools
Education Minister Ruel Reid, while addressing journalists at the GSAT press conference held at the education ministry in Kingston yesterday, said there were a number of parents who opted to allow their children sit out the examinations, noting that there was a total of 2,965 students who deferred from this year's sitting.
"The usual reason, really, are the parents who make the decision. They track their progress and they find that they may not be doing as well as they would want them to do, and so with the objective of getting them in a 'name-brand school' many parents opt to sit out a year so that they get a better placement," he said.
Kandi-Lee Crooks-Smith, however, noted that she was confident that the teachers have been doing all they can as they have worked tirelessly to ensure that the students grasped all the concepts. She said the school has also engaged in a number of partnerships, including the Game of Life Foundation at the University of the West Indies, which provided extra classes for students.
In the meantime, the minister noted that more than 39,000 students at the primary level in public and private schools will sit the exam.
The education minister also stressed that special steps will be taken to ensure that there will be no leaking of test papers. The steps to be taken include unannounced visits to the printing facilities and the packaging of examination materials in a sterile area.
Reid said all schools are expected to get the papers on March 15.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story stated that schools would get the papers. That is inaccurate as the papers will not arrive at schools until next week.)