The results of the Barbados Secondary School Entrance Examination (BSSEE) continue to show a need for education reform.
Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw, while commenting on a slight decline in the overall performance of this year’s BSSEE during a press conference at the ministry on Constitution Road, referred to a promise of further discussion on the exam’s future.
She recalled that Prime Minister Mia Mottley told the country that she would be returning to the island from receiving medical treatment overseas, to start discussions about issues surrounding the controversial Examination.
Bradshaw said that she has been speaking to the issue since taking the post as Education Minister last May, highlighting that there were assessments being conducted before the 11-Plus Examination that was in dire need of improvement.
Bradshaw said: “I believe if we can start the process of looking at those tests, where we can certainly put in place systems to be able to help our students. I do think that the statistics are clearly showing us that there is a need for reform.
“A number of the students, who are performing below average, could perhaps have done with better assessments from an earlier age, having been identified by the teachers as well as the principals, to be able to alert us to some of the challenges students have been having. I think that it points to the fact that we need to test not just on maths and English, but to look at well-rounded students.”
Bradshaw said she intended to ensure that schools were equipped with adequate resources and that students were exposed to diagnostic testing at an early age so that they would be provided with needed interventions.
She also insisted that there was a need to accept that students would not perform at the same level because they do not learn in the same way.
“So our focus now has to be on differentiated instruction. It also has to be on making accommodations to help people to learn whether that is in the classroom, out of the classroom. It also speaks to the fact that we need to make learning more practical. We need to let our students enjoy going to school.
“So quite apart from the heavy investment that we have been trying to make in ensuring that the school plant is in a condition that is satisfactory to both teachers and students, we have to basically ensure that we equip them with the tools that are necessary to do the job.”
The Minister then declared the time has come for Barbados to introduce additional specialist schools, an initiative which she said the private sector would need to lend a hand in executing.
She said the ministry has been in discussions with the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Council about rolling out a plan to make technical and vocational training more available in schools.
“We have been in discussions with persons regarding the cultural industries. I think that we recognize as a Ministry that the traditional curriculum is not working for the benefit of a number of students,” she said.