Education ministry confident step towards PEP will improve student outcome
With only a year left before the Ministry of Education replaces the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) with the much-anticipated Primary Exit Profile (PEP), the preparation for transition is on in earnest, and further details have emerged on how students will be tested, graded and subsequently placed in high schools.
Education Minister Senator Ruel Reid, speaking at a Gleaner Editors' Forum at the newspaper's North Street offices in central Kingston last week, said he has interrogated the system and is so far pleased with the progress the ministry has made in preparation for PEP.
He said further training of teachers and school administrators would get under way soon to prepare them for the new dispensation of the Primary School Exit examination, which commences in 2019.
It means that current grade four students will be the first cohort to sit PEP.
Part of the sweeping changes the ministry has disclosed is a shift in the examination period from March to May, and there will be an introduction of short-answer questions to complement multiple-choice questions which are now solely presented to students.
Reid declared: "The change is not just going to be a name ... .
"It is intended for it to be a better preparatory mechanism for students moving into the secondary system to make sure we have better outcomes," Reid said, adding that the PEP will shift the status quo of students regurgitating to developing critical and creative thinking skills.
The Primary Exit Profile (PEP) exam slated to begin in 2019 will have three distinct components which are the high order test, the performance task, and an ability test.
"The high order test will be the test that they will perform at the end of their time in grade six, and it will be a combination of multiple-choice and short-answer essay-type questions," Education Minister Ruel Reid disclosed on Friday at a Gleaner Editors' Forum at the company's North Street offices in central Kingston.
The performance task, the minister disclosed, will be comparable to the current school-based assessment done by students preparing to sit the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) exams and will span grades four and five.
Reid addressing the issue of quality control of the assessment said, like at CXC, teachers will assess the students at the school, but there will, however, be moderation by way of a sampling mechanism.
The minister said the ability test would not be curriculum-based and will be presented to students in the form of multiple-choice questions.
As for high-school placement, the education minister said there would be no changes in that respect.
Adamant that there must be a smooth transition into PEP, Reid disclosed that beginning September of this year, a change-management and communication team will be responsible for preparing primary-school teachers and administrators for PEP, while keeping the public informed on related matters.
The introduction of PEP coincides with the ending of the implementation of the national standards curriculum.
This financial year, the ministry has allocated $389 million for preparatory work and further training of teachers for PEP.