Photo Credit: File/hlscc.edu.vg
Deputy Principal at the Elmore Stoutt High School (ESHS), Mrs. Connie George has been transferred to the Department of Education to streamline the activities for the accreditation process of secondary schools as officials from the Middle States Commission plan an evaluation visit.
The announcement came last week from Hon. Myron Walwyn, Education and Culture Minister in response to questions posed by the opposition in the House of Assembly.
"The Ministry of Education has transferred one of its most experienced secondary educators, Mrs. Connie George to the Department of Education to coordinate the accreditation activities. Presently, we are awaiting word from the Middle States Commission regarding a visit to the island to provide additional training in the evaluation process. We expect an evaluation visit within this new school year," the Minister disclosed last week.
Hon. Andrew Fahie, First District Representative and former Education Minister had asked the Minister if the Virgin Islands Education system will continue to proceed with the accreditation process.
Minister Walwyn told the House that the Government is committed to the accreditation process.
"We believe it is one of the tools that can be leveraged to ensure quality in all our schools. So far, the Elmore Stoutt High School and Bregado Flax Educational Centre have candidacy status with Middle States Association Commission on Schools. Further, the projects and activities the Ministry has started, including the CXC initiatives, will aim to strengthen and support the accreditation process," he stated.
It is the Ministry's hope to introduce CXC in the 2013/2014 school year.
Additionally, Hon. Walwyn said the department is preparing to launch an online data collection system that would enable parents, students, teachers and stakeholders to provide information about the school system. He said this information is to be used in the accreditation process to further the development of the education system.
Late last month during Professional Day for Educators, Minister Walwyn announced that the grading standards that currently exist in public schools will be raised and there will be a written policy for supplemental assessments.
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 percent.
He explained that an A+ will require a student to obtain a score of 90-100 percent instead of 85-100 percent which currently obtains. A B+ will require a student to obtain a score of 75-79 percent instead of 70-74 percent as currently obtains; and accordingly, a C grade will now be considered between 55-59 instead of 50-59 percent as currently obtains.
The Minister further stated that additionally, across all the public schools, the same grading scheme and structure for assessments, promotions and graduations will now be used and schools will also be guided by a written policy as it pertains to supplemental assessments.
Also, effective from the 2013-2014 school year, the national school leaving exams will no longer count for only 15 percent 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.
Minister Walwyn stated that this will ensure that students are always actively engaged throughout their senior year in high school and will 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.
During last week's sitting of the House, the Minister reiterated that it is not the Ministry's plan to replace the secondary school leaving certification with the CXC CSEC certification.
"As a matter of fact, the Ministry is in the process of formulating the Terms of Reference for the implementation of the Territorial Examinations Board, in an effort to catapult the process of standardised testing and adding another layer of transparency and accountability to the Virgin Islands public education system," the Minister stated.
He also restated that for the first two years after the implementation of CXC, the Ministry vows to cover all CXC-related expenses for each student who sits the CXC CSEC examinations.
In response to how much it will cost Government for the first year, the Minister said he would not be able to say what the real cost would be as this is dependent on the number of students and the number of subjects to be taken by each student. However, he said he can share that as of this year, the cost per subject is $18.25. There is also a one-time registration fee of $18.00 per student.
Minister Walwyn assured that discussion continues at the Department of Education to map the best way forward for the implementation of CXC, noting that this school year will be used to prepare the incoming fourth form students for this transition.