Educators during a religious segment at the Professional Day For Educators, August 27, 2012
Photo Credit: Melissa Edwards/BVI Platinum News
The grading standards that currently exist in public schools will be raised, and there will be a written policy for supplemental assessments, announced Hon. Myron Walwyn, Minister for Education and Culture.
The Minister, who made several announcements during Professional Day for Educators in preparation for the upcoming school year, said they have a responsibility to ensure that students reach the required standards rather than having to lowering standards.
Teachers from across the Territory were in attendance at the event which is being held at the Eileene L. Parsons Auditorium today, August 27.
Hon. Walwyn said to better prepare students, new grading standards will require students to attain at least a 4.5 grade point average on a scale of 9 to be counted as a pass grade.
The Minister said the percentage requirement for letter grades will also be increased by 5%.
He explained that an A+ will require a student to obtain a score of 90-100% instead of 85-100% which currently obtains. A B+ will require a student to obtain a score of 75-79% instead of 70 - 74% as currently obtains; and accordingly a C grade will now be considered between 55- 59% instead of 50-59% as currently obtains.
"Additionally, across all of our public schools, the same grading scheme and structure for assessments, promotions and graduations will now be used. Schools will also be guided by a written policy as it pertains to supplemental assessments. The aim of the Ministry is to ensure that each child in the Virgin Islands is given the same opportunities to succeed. With one standard for all students, teachers and schools to adhere to, our public education system will prove to be more accountable and all of our students will be given greater opportunities for success," the Minister told educators.
Also, effective from the 2013-2014 school-year the national school leaving exams will no longer count for only 15% of a student´s overall requirement for graduation. He said while they continue to focus on continuous assessment, the school leaving exams will now carry much more weight leading up to a student´s overall grade towards graduation.
"This will ensure that our students are always actively engaged throughout their senior year in high school and guarantee that they are better prepared for regional exams. Currently, as you are aware it is highly possible for a student to graduate from the secondary school system without sitting the national school leaving exams," he said.
The new standards came following recommendations by a Committee headed by Elmore Stoutt which reviewed the Secondary School Leaving Assessment process from 2007 - 2011. According to the Minister, the committee made a number of recommendations to help the territory maintain a transparent assessment process.
Minister Walwyn stated that he is confident in the abilities of each and every educator to provide the necessary instruction to students, noting that the road ahead for all will not be easy.
"Much more will be required of you our educators and our students. However, I know that within this room and within our education system we have the talent that is needed to raise the standards of the education we offer to students. There will be challenging times, but we have a responsibility to ensure that our students reach the required standards rather than lowering standards to suit them," he opined.
Transition To CXC
Meanwhile, speaking on the full implementation of the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) exams as mandatory at secondary schools beginning in the 2013-2014 school year, the Minister said they will be using this school year to prepare students and teachers for the transition.
Hon. Myron Walwyn, Minister for Education and Culture speaking to educators, August 27, 2012
Photo Credit: Melissa Edwards/BVI Platinum News
"CXC has done an outstanding job of marketing their exams to university boards and accreditation centres around the world. From the United States to the United Kingdom, institutions of higher learning, traditional and non-traditional, are requesting CXC passes from students graduating from the Caribbean region. If we do not take on the challenge of implementing this change, we will be doing our students a great disservice as they try to advance their education," he stated.
He said Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of the Caribbean Examinations Council, Dr Didacus Jules, has given his assurance that the organisation will give the necessary resources to the Virgin Islands to ensure the success of the Territory´s education plans and its students as they make this change.
"With that assurance and the conversations that I have had with many of you and many of our parents since we began exploring this option early this year, I am confident that together we will successfully switch all of our students into this new assessment policy," he asserted.
The Minister stated that the implementation of the exams will call for a holistic look at secondary education in the Virgin Islands. To this end, a committee will be put together comprising educators, business professionals and past students of the education system to assist the Territory in this transition and to make recommendations to the Minister for improving the overall secondary education system.
The Minister suggested, "maybe it is time for us to get rid of the level 40 and 41 and 50 and 51 regimes; maybe it is time for us to add an additional hour to allow for more instructional time in the school day as was done in the state Florida for this academic year; maybe it is time to unlock the set programmes in the secondary schools and allow students to choose their courses across the board in third form in preparation for the national school leaving exams and CXC exams and maybe it is even time for us to seriously consider a sixth form to allow our students a better transition into college."
In response to the Minister´s suggestion, there were some murmurs from the audience, but the Minister reiterated, "I am just saying, maybe."