After years of reporting dismal Mathematics results, education officials today breathed a sigh of relief as they reported a significant improvement in the performance of students in the subject area, with 13 scoring full marks.
Minister of Education Ronald Jones delivered the welcomed news this morning during a news conference called to announce the results of the exam.
Among those scoring 100 per cent on the Mathematics Paper were nine girls and four boys, which is a marked improvement over the results of the past two years when only three students scored full marks in 2016 and seven in 2015.
“For females the overall performance has increased to 58.1 per cent . . . from 51.92 per cent in 2016. For males, this has increased to 51.8 from 44.7 per cent in 2016,” an upbeat Jones said.
Overall, the national performance in Mathematics has improved with only 26.2 per cent of students – 838 – scoring less than 30 per cent in the subject area. This compares to 987 students last year.
There was also a relative decline in the number of students scoring between 30 and 69 per cent – 35.95 per cent compared to 37.7 per cent in 2016.
Jones also pointed out that there was a decline in the number of students getting midrange scores as the number of students receiving between 70 and 100 per cent in the subject increased to 38 per cent compared to 28.7 per cent last year.
This year, the national mean in Maths rose to 55.
“This is 6.7 per cent increase from 2016 when it was 48.3 per cent,” Jones said.
He attributed the improvement in Mathematics to efforts by his ministry to make the subject more interesting to students, as well as to increase training opportunities for teachers.
“It has been recognized for a number of years that there are some students who are averse to Maths and we have provided opportunities for training for teachers, through the University of the West Indies, Erdiston Teachers College and even within the Ministry of Education to try to boost the competence and what I call the likeability factor.
“Persons see figures and they recoil; but it is now beginning to pay off,” he said.
However, he acknowledged that Government’s work was far from over and that education officials now have focus on even more training to increase the appreciation for the subject, in order to continue to realize improved performances.
“Just let me underscore though that because there has been an improvement by almost seven or eight per cent, that we will rest on our laurels. We surely will not rest on our laurels, particularly since we are also focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths [STEM] . . . . With heavy emphasis on STEM education, Maths forms the base of that education. We will continue over the next few years . . . to emphasize that,” he said.
In terms of the performance of students in English, national mean was 70.4 per cent.
“This represents an increase of 2.48 per cent when compared to the national mean for 2016 when it was 67.92,” Jones reported, adding that both the males and female averages were up.
“The males would be 62.63 [per cent] in 2015; 63.20 in 2016; and 66.5 in 2017. In other words, where there’s an improvement overall, males also improved, while females continue to improve. For the females, 71.76 per cent in 2015; 72.70 in 2016 and 2017, 74.2,” he said.
This year’s exam was held on May 2 at 22 centres across the island. Students from 68 public primary schools and 24 private primary schools were registered to sit the exam.
At the end of the day, the top-performing boy was Jovan Linton of Blackman and Gollop who will be attending Queen’s College in September, having a score of 243.18 overall.
The top performing girl was Tishani Rhianna Jordan of Christ Church Girl’s, with a score of 243.70. She will also attend Queen’s College.
Linton was one of 11 early sitters in this year’s exam, and according to Minister Jones, they all performed “exceptionally well”.
“You can go away with the feeling that something is happening in primary education. Teachers are generally performing with these students, and students don’t only begin at 11-plus, they begin through the system. So there’s been improvement overall, so our congratulations to all students who did the 11-plus this year,” he stated.
Jones reported that the majority of students, approximately 93.5 per cent, managed to secure places in Government-run secondary schools. The others received bursaries and will be otherwise allocated within the public school system.
He however lamented that there were still some students who were scoring zero.
“This has to be looked at because of the peculiar stresses [of] some students, particularly those with special needs,” Jones said.