Jermaine Francis, Staff Reporter
Of the more than 200 preparatory schools operating across the island, only 64 have been deemed to be performing above average, according to a study conducted by think tank Educate Jamaica.
The study, dubbed 'The Prep School Guide' is purportedly aimed at "helping parents select the right school for their children".
Ainsworth Darby, chairman of Educate Jamaica, said the group looked at preparatory schools at the primary level, and whether they are worth the hefty sums parents are being asked to pay at these institutions.
Darby indicated that, based on his research, only 64 of the preparatory schools across the island currently fit the bill.
"We took the GSAT (Grade Six Achievement Test) performance data from 2009 to 2013 and looked at prep schools that have been consistent in their performances," Darby said.
Education Ministry data revealed that there are currently 242 prep schools operating across the island; however, Darby said many of these schools were ruled out of the top 64 because they were either inconsistent in their performances or performing below the 80 per cent benchmark in GSAT.
80 per cent average
He said the group compiled the list based on those schools that are averaging more than 80 per cent in GSAT English language, mathematics, social studies and science, and getting 10 or more out of the 12 allotted marks in communication task.
"A number of them came close to the mark, a number of them were there in various years but what these schools lacked was the consistency," he added.
He said the study was relevant as thousands of parents are spending millions of dollars to put their children through preparatory schools in hopes that they will do well on the GSAT exams and secure a place in the high schools of their choice.
"What we have found is that, over the lifespan of their children attending prep school, a lot of parents were spending in excess of $1 million over the six years and we are not yet talking about lunch money and books and extra-curricular activities," Darby said.
He said the study stayed away from ranking the 64 preparatory schools, but indicated that between 80 to 85 per cent of the top schools can be found in St James and Kingston and St Andrew.
The comprehensive report on the findings was published earlier this week on the educatejamaica.org website.
In August, the Educate Jamaica think tank created a stir with its high-school rankings, published on the same website.