Despite numerous complaints that the Mathematics paper in this year’s Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination was difficult, Minister of Education Ronald Jones yesterday asserted that he had no issues with the exam.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday to announce the results of this year’s examination written by 3,527 students on May 3, Jones acknowledged that there was a drop in the overall score for this paper, compared to last year, but contended it was negligible.
The overall national average in Mathematics fell by 2.17 points from 50.47 per cent last year to 48.3 in 2016.
This year, three male students scored full marks in the Mathematics Paper as compared to seven in 2015. These students included top student Zachary Gill of St Gabriel’s, Talha Zakariya Mohamed of Al-Falah and Khalil Vanderpool-Nurse of Charles F. Broome.
Last year, 229 students – seven per cent – scored less than ten per cent, as compared to 138 – 3.6 per cent – in 2015. The performance for males and females in 2016 decreased by 2.31 and 2.12 respectively when compared to 2015.
Jones said there was nothing to suggest that anything was wrong with any part of the Paper, insisting that a lack of preparation was responsible for the difficulty experienced by some students.
“How deep you prepare yourself, how committed you stay to realizing where you want to go within the context of how you perform; readiness, preparation, all of that would come into play as you go about your examinations and this exam is no different,” Jones stated.
He said the ministry was in continuous discussions with the University of the West Indies and Erdiston Teacher’s Training College to help teachers improve their Mathematics teaching skills.
Jones also indicated that the ministry was focused on developing specialist Mathematics teachers as part of its approach to teaching Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
This year, 626 students scored less than 30 per cent on the examination paper, as compared to 963 last year, while 1,194 students scored between 40 and 69 per cent, compared to 1,084 in 2015.
An analysis of the performance of the students revealed that 909 pupils scored between 70 and 100 this year, down from 1,017 last year.