ISSA defends pass mark for athletes
Chairman of the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA), Dr Walton Small, has come out in defence of the academic criteria set by his entity for students who desire to participate in high-school sports.
The association requires students to achieve a 45 per cent average in four subjects in order to participate in sports, and some believe this is woefully low.
One high-school coach admitted in a recent SportGlobe article that he felt guilty, saying some players' future was being sacrificed for medals and trophies to adorn principals' offices.
"Our pass mark of 45 per cent is not something that we pick out arbitrarily. It is something that the entire principal organisation decides on. If it is to change, it has to go to a general meeting and we vote on it," Small told The Gleaner.
He said the figure was arrived at based on studies that suggest that students who consistently perform at a minimum of 45 per cent average in school would usually get at least a grade three in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations.
"In CSEC, the passes needed to matriculate are one, two and three. Our investigation as principals shows that if students perform consistently with a 45 to 55 per cent average, then it is usually translated in a grade three. If they consistently perform at a 56 to 69 per cent average, then it is usually translated in a grade two, and if they consistently get 70 per cent and over, then it is translated to them getting a grade one.
"So when ISSA said 45 per cent, it means that usually the student would get at least a grade three, which they can use to matriculate," Small argued.
He, however, said that despite the standard set by ISSA, it was the responsibility of individual institutions to put support systems in place to help students improve.
"If the institutions recognise that students are failing, they need to put support systems in place for those students," he said.
NO PROBLEM FOR JTA
President of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA), Clayton Hall, said the criteria set by ISSA was not a problem for the JTA.
"Should the grade be increased, then it would make some of the students who would want to participate ineligible for participation. The reality is that much of these students who may be very successful at ISSA sports are going to earn a living not through academics, but through playing football or running.
"We have to ensure that we don't spare the nose and spoil the face, but we have to work out a balance that will get students at least numerate and literate while they are allowed to play sports," he said.