The GSAT placement is about 95 per cent automatic, that is, approximately 95 per cent of participating students are placed by computer. The process begins with the computerised ranking of students. The student attaining the highest composite standard score is ranked. Each subsequent student, in descending order of performance, is assigned a rank, that rank being the last rank incremented by one, until all students have been assigned a rank.
The same principle is used to place each student, starting with the highest rank. The student's school of first choice is checked for the availability of a space in which to place a student of this gender. If a place is available, the student is placed in that secondary school. If there is no place available, the process is repeated with the student's next preferred school. If all five preferences are exhausted without being able to place the student, the process continues in the same manner with each school on the Ministry of Education's Proximity List.
If the computer is then unable to automatically place the child in a preferred school or one on the proximity list, the child is manually placed by the ministry's regional officers, who possess intimate knowledge of the schools under their jurisdiction.
Typically, approximately five per cent of students are manually placed. This process is 'blind', with officers effecting the placements being given no indication as to students' identity. All that is provided to officers are randomly generated student numbers and the schools at which they sat the GSAT. They are placed in schools which have available spaces and which can cater to their needs.
One challenge faced by the process is the public perception that students are not placed in a preferred school.
Upon examination of the system, it becomes clear that the ministry's ability to place students in their preferred schools is dependent on the number of places available in each school, as well as the number of students selecting that school.
On completion of placement each year, the process and its results are audited by the National Examination Committee comprising representatives from the Ministry of Education, the Jamaica Teachers' Association, the Jamaica Council of Churches and the company contracted to process the examinations. The committee is provided with information on the processes used, challenges encountered, and the results.
- Taken from the website of the Ministry of Education.