Despite numerous disruptions and uncertainty due to the ongoing pandemic, this year’s Common Entrance results have remained relatively consistent with recent years, according to Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw.
But during her annual comparative analysis of the results, Bradshaw made it clear that viable alternatives are still being sought to replace the exam that many believe has “outlived its usefulness”.
“While today is a day of reflection on this examination, it is not business as usual, and we have to work with our stakeholders to find that common ground that works for everyone, and we have started the ball rolling in terms of those discussions,” Bradshaw told reporters on Tuesday morning.
During the annual briefing, held later this year because the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the examination normally taken in early May, Bradshaw revealed that private schools have again dominated the results despite being outnumbered 44 to 23 by public schools. Six students from private schools registered in the top ten results. Meanwhile, nine of the 17 top performers in English as well as nine of the 22 in Mathematics all hail from private schools.
The national mean in Mathematics of 58.24 represents a decline of 3.34 points from the 2019 average of 61.58 and an even further decline from the mean score of 62.46 that was recorded in 2018.
On the other hand, in English, this year’s mean score of 69.25 represents an increase of 3.51 when compared with last year’s scores.
According to Bradshaw, further analysis revealed a “marginal increase” in the overall performance of female students over the three-year period of 2018 to 2020, while male performances have “marginally declined”.
As she congratulated students and teachers who were thrust into an unstable learning environment, the minister noted that the COVID-19 situation appeared to have a minimal impact.
“We haven’t seen a drastic difference in the numbers, so I don’t know that I can say there has been a significant difference in the scores. We have always known we had some challenges with the performance of students both in English and Maths that we allow our teachers to be retooled to deliver instructions in a more interesting way to the students as well,” Bradshaw told reporters.
There were also questions raised about the future of the controversial examination, which the Prime Minister, on multiple occasions, has vowed to see abolished and replaced with other more progressive academic options.
In response, the education minister indicated that much needed consultations with the wider society have been hampered by the pandemic, but would continue once there is no second wave of the dreaded virus.
“I can pull report after report for you that speaks to the fact that the common entrance examination has outlived its usefulness. All of the reports and commissions have pointed in the same direction. However, we believe we still need to have consultation with as many stakeholders as possible, not on whether it has outlived its usefulness, but rather on what we replace it with, because all of the reports point to the problems, but very few are prepared to say what the solutions are,” said Bradshaw
“Our responsibility is not just to bash the Common Entrance or engage in a discourse on it, but rather to find the solutions that allow children to have a place in our society.
“We anticipate that over the next few weeks and months, providing that COVID-19 does not have another wave in Barbados, those discussions on the future of the 11 Plus will certainly be able to materialize in a forum that is conducive to us holding wider consultations,” she added. [email protected]