(EMU/ZIZ) — An important milestone in the Ministry of Education’s Reform Process was reached with the presentation of the National Student Progress Report Booklet on Thursday, December 1.
The document which was presented to head teachers at a ceremony at the Customs Conference Room followed by an interactive familiarization session, was the result of months of hard work spearheaded by the Chief Education Officer, Dr Tricia Esdaille, and a team of specialists and stakeholders of the Ministry of Education.
“For students, assessment is at the heart of the educational experience. Assessment always defines what students regard as important. It influences how they see themselves as students and future graduates. If we want to change student learning then we must change methods of assessment.” Dr. Esdaille stated.
Commenting on the fact that assessment is largely dependent on the judgement that teachers make about the quality of students’ work, Dr. Esdaille emphasized that confidence in such judgement requires “the establishment of appropriate forums for the development and sharing of standards within the educational and professional communities. Recognizing the high stakes that grades represent for students, the Ministry of Education is taking steps to ensure that an explicit grading model and a larger framework for assessment are developed.”
Director at the Curriculum Development Unit, Dr. Eva Bowrin, told the gathering, “The Draft Education Strategic Plan makes very special provisions for the establishment of learning assessment systems from early childhood to post secondary. It is to outline expected learning outcomes and core competencies at all levels, include very clear graduation criteria; reflect the ideals of the national qualification framework and ensure that there is a measure of social and civic responsibility.”
Dr Bowrin emphasized the benefits of the system designed to ensure that no child is left behind regardless of their levels of ability. She added that one of the strengths of the new system would be the data that would be collected to allow parents and students to rate their performance. “Teachers will know how they can improve instruction; the wider education system can reflect on its academic provisions and improve where necessary; employees and higher education institutions and the wider public can have a realistic picture of the quality of human resource that exits the system,” Dr Bowrin said.
Minister of Education and Deputy Prime Minister, Hon Shawn Richards, highlighted the anticipated impact of the new booklet explaining that its use will curtail what was an otherwise haphazard system of reporting in schools.
“The ministry’s theme for the academic year 2016-2017 is ‘Education for All: Embracing Change, Securing the Future,’” he said. “A part of embracing change has been the creation of the National Student Report Booklet. The need for the standardization of the Education Sector in the areas of assessment and reporting was one of the main reasons for producing this booklet. Data and documents collected from schools revealed that a variety of reporting formats were being used that included booklets, cards and leaflets. Even the subject areas were different among schools.”
Minister Richards explained that the implementation of a book of this nature lends itself to quality assurance, validity, reliability and equity. “Reforming the sector strategy allows us the start with this fundamental aspect that will reach a greater number of persons,” he added.
The establishment of the learning assessment system is to ensure that student’s performance is carefully measured, documented and reported.
Principal Education Officer for Nevis Mrs Palsy Wilkin said that as a result of the new system each school will have an identical way of reporting. If a child needs to relocate and transfer to another school within the Federation or outside of St. Kitts and Nevis the assessment report will provide a clear picture of the student’s performance for seamless transfer and placement.
The report booklet will service public primary schools on both islands of the Federation and private primary schools are welcome to participate as well. The goal is to implement in September 2017 after training and any necessary adjustments are made.