Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Marked improvement in GSAT averages in Manchester

Published:Thursday | June 22, 2017 | 6:00 AMTamara Bailey
Tamara Bailey photo Christina Tulloch interacting with students.

Marked improvement in GSAT averages in Manchester

The disappointing results of last year were clearly enough to whip into shape the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) co-ordinators and teachers at the different institutions in Manchester, as all the schools visited boasted improved averages and some of the highest grades in the different subject areas.

Campbell's Castle Primary School had 18 students who sat the exam, eight of whom earned scores high enough to get them a spot at their institution of choice.

"Our top boy is Sean Biggs, with an average of 97 per cent, and our top girl is Beyonce Brown, with an average of 99 per cent. She got almost-perfect scores in all the areas," said principal Owen Lambert.

Lambert acknowledged that while the national science average went down, the school's average was to 83 per cent, up from 78 per cent last year.

"Last year, our lowest-performing area was maths; we had a 67 per cent average, and this year it has jumped to 75 per cent. The overall average for the school is 80 per cent. We have worked hard, we have tried to do things differently and it has paid off."

Though a much smaller institution, the Campbell's Castle SDA Preparatory School is happy for the improvements they have seen from last year.

New principal at the institution, Cecile Forbes, reported that last year the top average at the school was 65 per cent, and this has improved significantly to 83 per cent this year.

"We sent up three students this year and the top student received the following scores: maths, 85 per cent; science, 92 per cent; social studies, 76 per cent; language arts, 86 per cent; and communication task, 10 out of 12. This year, the grade-six teacher worked extremely hard with the students. Our sessions even benefited several other students from different institutions, so we know our methods work," said Forbes.

Forbes told The Gleaner that a serious intervention programme that included the parents would be implemented in the coming year and preparation for the upcoming exams will begin this summer.

high achievements

Known for their high academic achievements over the years, the McIntosh Memorial Primary School was not to be outdone, having also experienced a boost in the school's overall average.

Acting principal Vyonnie Whines and senior vice-principal and GSAT coordinator Althea Holiness revealed that the school is not yet where they want it to be, but they are proud of the accomplishments of the students and are committed to working tirelessly to improving the process.

"Our overall average for this year is 73 per cent, moving from 69 per cent last year. We had 203 students sitting the exam and all were placed in high schools,"said Whines.

With approximately 80 students earning spaces at traditional high schools, Whines revealed that the majority of the students otherwise placed had averages that could secure them a place in any traditional high school.

"We had some slow learners and we did our best to work with them. They would have got special support. We took into consideration their home environment. We would have done home visits and we would have done a needs assessment for them. As they move on to their new schools, we are liaising with the guidance counsellors there so they don't become frustrated in the system and frustrate the system," Whines added.

At Yabnel Care Centre, the overall average last year was 85 per cent and this has moved to 87.2 per cent.

"This year, we have an improvement in all areas except maths. Math, 81.3 per cent; language arts, 89 per cent; science, 89.3 per cent; social studies, 90 per cent; and communication task remains the same, 10 out of 12," said grade-six teacher Christina Tulloch.

Tulloch revealed that the improved grades were as a result of frequent pop quizzes, educational games that she created, and constant dialogue with parents.