June 20, 2014
CPEA holds teachers accountable – Head teacher

Following the completion of the Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment (CPEA) cohort of Grade six students in St Vincent and the Grenadines, head teachers are assessing the success of their students.

Of the 912 females that wrote this year’s CPEA, 798 met the required standard,{{more}} while of the 1,022 males, 712 met the required standard.

In St Vincent and the Grenadines, 39 schools recorded a pass rate in excess of 80 per cent.

Head teacher of the Barrouallie Government School Vibert Pierre told SEARCHLIGHT that he welcomes the introduction of the CPEA in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Two students from the Barrouallie Government School placed in the top 11 positions in this year’s examinations. Pierre believes that the CPEA is a better way than the Common Entrance to assess the Grade six students across the country.

“The Common Entrance is just a one shot examination. You go in on the day and then you have to make sure that you’re well, so that you can get a good mark and all of that; unlike with this one (CPEA), where marks are being gathered as you go along. Formative assessment is being done and that helps to ensure that children succeed,” the head teacher explained.

“I have worked in the Common Entrance class for a number of years and I’ve seen quite a number of good students who didn’t do well on the examination. Not because they didn’t have the ability, but for some reason or the other, something went wrong on that day, they might not have done as well as expected.”

While describing CPEA as student friendly, Pierre pointed out that it also holds teachers accountable, because there are certain standards that must be met.

To highlight these standards, the head teacher revealed what the teachers at the Barrouallie Government School did, in order to ensure their students’ success.

“One of the things that works here for us is teamwork. I have an excellent team of teachers who prepared the students for the examination. What we did, we met every two weeks and we were reviewing the progress of the students. When we were faced with challenges, we discussed how we would tackle those problems and it just worked for us. At first, the teachers were a bit apprehensive about embracing the CPEA, not because they were not knowledgeable of what is expected in these subject areas, but then I think change, people do not accept change readily. Once we overcame that initial barrier, then I think the teachers just worked extremely hard to ensure that the children were prepared for the CPEA and it worked. It paid off for us,” he said.

This year, the Barrouallie Government School recorded their highest pass rate for a primary school exit exam: 83 per cent. In 2013, the primary school recorded a 58 per cent pass rate for the Common Entrance Examination.

While head teacher of the Questelles Government School Orde Ballantyne also welcomes the implementation of the CPEA, he voiced some of his concerns about the exams.

From the Questelles Government School, two students placed in the top 11 positions, including the boy who placed first overall, Twenty Hill resident Laron Jones.

According to Ballantyne, some of the assessments may not be suited to primary school children.

“This year we had a new format. The format included things that we were not accustomed to: the project, the book report and the portfolio and self assessment,” Ballantyne explained.

“The project, I do not think that the project should be a viable suggestion for primary school. And for self assessment, I do not understand why is it that a child has to write a question and be given credit for that at 10 and 11 years old. So, those two, I do not think that we are quite ready and I doubt that we will ever be ready for those aspects of the CPEA exam, but the ongoing assessment is something that I’ve always welcomed.”

Additionally, the Questelles Government School head teacher opined that certain standards should be set for students across the board.

“Every school offers different types of exams, so we don’t have a standard exam. So, a school may have easy exams, a school may have difficult exams, a school may have just borderline exams, but all three sets of marks are going through, so that poses to me a problem. I suspect because we don’t have a standard thing, that may pose some kind of problem in terms of the assessment,” he said.

Ballantyne stressed that the Questelles Government School has always been above average when it come to primary school exit examinations.

Last year, the school recorded a 63 per cent pass rate with Common Entrance and this year, they recorded a 92 per cent pass rate with the CPEA.

Despite this stellar performance, Ballantyne is pleading with parents to be more involved in the preparation of their children for exams.

“Parental support is so critical; something that we have seen a drop off in for the last four or five years. All the research shows that once a parent is supporting the child, the child will be successful, but we are clamouring to get the parents on board. I do not know what else that we can do. Perhaps if somebody out there has suggestions for us, we will welcome suggestions to get our parents on board because we are not getting our parental support across the board and that continues to be a difficult problem for us as teachers to manage,” he said.

However, Ballantyne has commended his staff for their hard work, stating that they are “excellent staff, and they continue to work well, so this is just a product of the excellent work ethic that we have here at Questelles.”(BK)