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Vauxhall High revels in CSEC maths success

Published:Saturday | August 16, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Anastasia Cunningham, Health Coordinator

Enjoying a significant improvement in mathematics passes in this year's Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations, Vauxhall High School in Kingston is numbered among the non-traditional schools being heralded.

Fifty-nine per cent of the students who sat the 2014 mathematics exam passed, compared to 18 per cent last year, giving the school an improvement of 41 percentage points.

"Last year, 15 students passed the maths exam and this year 55 students passed, so this is something to really celebrate. We all feel very good and excited about the results. The principal, students, teachers, the entire team, we all feel quite heartened by it," said Kimberley Miller, coordinator for Vauxhall's CSEC maths programme.

"It took a lot of hard work, a lot of sacrifice, mentoring and a lot of counselling to motivate and change the students' mindset to get them to buy into what we wanted to achieve."

She explained that among the initiatives employed was expanding the Saturday programme to every first and third, and whenever there was a fifth Saturday in the month.

Marathon maths sessions

There were also strategic marathon maths sessions during each term, which lasted for entire days.

Added to that was the Countdown programme, a mathematics outreach project initiated by past student and 2014 Rhodes scholar Timar Jackson.

In the months closer to the CSEC exams, the students were given weekly tests from past papers.

"Key to getting the programme to work was motivating the students and getting rid of their fear of maths. What made the difference in the results we are now seeing is the drive, from both the students and the teachers, each putting out more than 100 per cent. Everyone put out their full potential and everyone was very supportive of the programme, including the school board, past students association and the sponsors that came on board. It was a team effort," she said.

Miller noted that there was an overall improvement in all subject areas of CSEC this year.

"Going forward, we will put in even greater effort to achieve even greater results, going beyond what we achieved to improve the passes even more," she said.

David Reid, president of Vauxhall's past student association, said the results marked a significant milestone, as the group had initially challenged the students to achieve at least 55 passes to coincide with the school's 55th anniversary. And the students delivered on that challenge.

Candidates across Jamaica who sat this year's CSEC recorded an improvement in 14 of the 35 subject areas, with mathematics recording the highest jump of 13 per cent increase in passes over last year.