Ranking schools by CSEC results is unfair -Mt Alvernia High principal
Despite her institution ascending from 18th to sixth in Educate Jamaica's 2018 listing of schools based on their performance in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination, principal of Mt Alvernia High School, Stacey Reynolds, believes that the method of ranking is unfair to most institutions, particularly the ones ranked as "failing".
Reynolds has said that CSEC results ought not to be the only way to determine whether or not a school is performing, or whether "one school is better than the other", because ultimately, there are different variables for every school, ranging from the teacher-to-student ratio, school population, and the Grade Six Achievement Test grades of each seventh-grade cohort.
"The variables are different, but I, honestly, don't believe that a principal is bad because the school is ranked way down or that the school isn't good because you are not getting a 100 per cent passes in CSEC," Reynolds argued.
"I think that you [should] look at the intake. So if I get kids at 20 per cent [GSAT performance], how can I get that child [CSEC-ready] in five years when I need to go back and cover primary-school work?" she argued.
"You may be able to add value in the form of CSEC to your [GSAT cohort]; somebody else might be able to add value by teaching a child a trade ... it doesn't mean that he is nothing. It doesn't mean that the school he attends is less. What I think people need to realise is that this ranking thing, it hurts children more than anything else," added Reynolds.
LACK OF RESOURCES
Reynolds, who is a former vice-principal at St George's College in St Andrew, said that most of the so-called failing schools are improperly resourced in comparison to their top-ranked counterparts and do not necessarily have requisite parental support. As a consequence, she said children who are placed in these institutions go in with the mindset that they are "not good".
She said that the Ministry of Education's National Education Inspectorate school evaluations are the perfect formula for determining how a school is ranked.
"I think that some more emphasis needs to be pushed [in that direction] where they (NEI) visit the schools and go through everything for you. They don't just look at CSEC. They look at how the principal communicates with staff and parents; your intake that you have been working with; and then they rank you unsatisfactory, satisfactory, or good, and you get a ranking there," Reynolds stated.