New placement exam's success rests on parents - teachers
Teachers have given the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) examination the thumbs up after yesterday's national mock sitting, citing its practicability and ease. However, while confident of its role in preparing students for secondary-level education, educators say that PEP's ultimate success will depend heavily on parents' input.
"As a teacher, I am OK with PEP. It is going to take a little time for everyone, including parents, to get on board with it. But I believe also that its success is going to be determined by much of those very parents," said Denise Buchanan, a grade five teacher at Windward Road Primary and Junior High School.
"All in all, I think PEP is relevant and I like it based on the analysis and what students are required to do. But I am not certain at this time, that they will be able to manage it because its overloaded with information," Buchanan told The Gleaner yesterday.
In commenting on the mock exam, principal Noel Pennant said it gave schools a first-hand look at what PEP would be like when it was fully implemented.
"We hope to get from this mock exam a better understanding of what PEP is all about, given that some persons have been calling for its postponement, as it were," he said.
He reasoned that while PEP was new, it is going to require a massive amount of help from parents, who will be required to have their children analyse and review various types of materials to stimulate critical thinking.
Yesterday, grade five students across the country sat the mock performance task in the subject areas of science, social studies, language arts, and mathematics.
Tomorrow, Grade 4 students will sit the Grade 4 Literacy exam and on Friday they will sit the general achievement and numeracy exam.
Antoinette Mullings, exam coordinator at Holy Family Infant and Primary School in central Kingston, also expressed the view that an expanded role for parents was needed if students were to do their best.
"This exam is clearly about the students' analytical skills. Therefore, it's a constant process, and parents will be demanded more to play their parts," advised Mullings.
She continued: "They will need to keep the child focused on not just having some down time, but to be in a position where everything is explained and analysed.
"That will help the students to remain engaged, even at home, no matter what the occasion," she added.
The national mock sitting, in addition to exposing students and teachers to the newest item (performance task), will also assist the Student Assessment Unit in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information to gather data that will inform the administering of the exam.
The Primary Exit Profile will replace the 19-year-old Grade Six Achievement Test in the new school term starting in September.