ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Co-ordinator of Mathematics in the Ministry of Education, Caron Weston, said she will be “pulling out all the stops” to increase the national performance in the subject area.
Last year, a mere 29 per cent or 437 student out of a total of 1,518 that sat mathematics passed the exam, and the figure is believed to be lower this year.
This pass rate is quite alarming compared to the region’s average, which according to the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) is 33 per cent this year.
Weston, a doctoral student who returned to the job December last year, said this high failure rate is of grave concern for her, especially when compared to other subject areas which are recording high passes.
Weston said teachers need to be more equipped with 21st century methodologies to deliver the subject in a more effective manner.
She indicated that this would mean including more research as part of the curriculum and teachers making writing, reading and comprehension a part of their trajectory.
“We have also got to make certain that the mathematics we are teaching our children they can link it to their real world experience,” Weston said in an exclusive interview with OBSERVER Media.
The co-ordinator admitted that the examination body can not reduce the pass rate any lower, adding that the solution going forward is to ensure that the practical math component is not abstract.
“We have to build the students up from where they are, and it can be done, but again we have to empower our teachers to make them understand these are things that you can do. High quality teaching is important,” Weston said.
She also pointed out that her visit to a number of schools across the island proved that certain components are missing from the application of the subject which is compulsory.
Education Minister Dr Jacqui Quinn-Leandro, in an interview last year following the announcement of the Math results, said her ministry would be implementing a number of recommendations by CXC to tackle the decline in math scores.
Dr Quinn-Leandro said those steps included training teachers in the use of the new CXC online learning portal Notesmaster for math.
Meanwhile, the Caribbean Examination Council has issued a call to action to address the performance in mathematics.
According to the examination body, the performance in the May/June 2012 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) mathematics examination has resulted in a call for action in the region to address deficiencies in the subject.
This year, 33 per cent of the entries for mathematics achieved Grades I – III, which are the acceptable grades at CSEC.
CXC said this is a further decline in performance when compared with the last two years. In 2011, 35 per cent earned similar grades and in 2010 the figure stood at 41 per cent.
Registrar of CXC Dr Didacus Jules outlined some measures CXC will be implementing to address the issue.
The examination body said 35 subjects were offered for the May/June examination this year and performance improved in nine subjects, declined on 19, remained the same on six and included one new subject.
CXC also reported steady progress in the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE), which replaced the traditional A ‘levels in the region.
The number of unit entries this year increased from 108,379 last year to 109,880 this year, an increase of 1,501 entries.
The number of candidates writing CAPE also increased when compared with previous years.
This year 28,043 candidates wrote CAPE, compared with 27,596 candidates in 2011, an increase of 447 candidates.
The Ministry of Education is expected to give an official breakdown of the results for CSEC and Cape later this week.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)