Tue | Oct 16, 2018

GSAT Stress will linger even after exam ends

Published:Tuesday | September 19, 2017 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Ruel Reid
Grace McLean

There are high hopes that the intense stress associated with the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) will be alleviated as Jamaica prepares for the transition to the Primary Exit Profile (PEP). Ruel Reid, education minister, said, however, that persons will have to wait a little longer before they see any improvement in this area.

The ministry has announced that this is the final year for the sitting of GSAT in preparation for PEP in 2019.

In an interview with The Gleaner, Reid said while the GSAT workload might be heavy, the majority of the stress stems from placement at the secondary level.

"The stress that comes with GSAT is due to placement for the most part. Unfortunately, from where I sit, until we build out those 17 new schools, there will still be some of those challenges. Also, we can't go to zoning yet, until we have the capacity, and we have enabled the schools to display the same or similar qualities to that of what we refer to as traditional high schools," Reid said.

"When I talk to my advisers, technocrats, colleagues and opposition, they similarly suggest that the issue of zoning can only arise if we ensure that there's adequate space and the quality is similar, pretty much across the system."

He also cautioned against fanfare and too much expectation, indicating that the only change to anticipate, is that there is less reliance on multiple-choice questions.

"There's much ado [about nothing] in terms of PEP. The curriculum is essentially the same; the difference really is the testing modality. I did ask the question and I went through a thorough investigation of system readiness, capability, and they have passed all the tests I gave them with flying colours, so I have given full endorsement," Reid said.

Dr Grace McLean, chief education officer at the ministry, also said that the process of transitioning has already begun.

"The process has already started, and this September, we have fully rolled out the curriculum. It started last year with those students who would have been in grade four, so they would have effectively started the preparation. In grade four, they were able to do a dry run of one of the components of PEP, which is the performance," she said.