July 7, 2017

Students denied placement at school of choice, parents upset

by Crystal Jones

Some parents who are proud of their children’s Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment (CPEA) results say they are displeased with the schools to which their children were assigned.

SEARCHLIGHT spoke to some of these parents, all of whom are from rural areas. They believe it is unfair to their children, who, they say, worked very hard and endured pressure at home and at school, and are now being denied a place at their schools of choice in Kingstown.

One mother from North Central Windward, whose child was assigned to a school close to home, told SEARCHLIGHT she now has to reassure her son how proud of him she is, as he is very hurt and believes he has disappointed them all.

“He is lying in my arms right now and I can feel his pain. I’m not looking at him, because I will cry. He thinks he disappointed me. No child should feel that way. I just spoke to him and told him how proud I am,” that mother said in a text message to SEARCHLIGHT.

Another upset mother stated: “I called the Ministry [of Education] and they are telling me they have to find schools to place students who live in and around Kingstown.”

That mother, who lives in Central Leeward, is of the view that students who did not place in the top 500, but live in Kingstown, are being given the opportunity to attend schools there.

“I don’t have a problem with the schools in my area, but I’d rather my son in town, because certain opportunities available there are not available in these rural areas; they are limited; CPEA is just not working for these kids,” she said.

The parents are now questioning why, prior to the CPEA, did the Ministry of Education ask them to select at least six schools they would like their children to attend, but now those children are being placed at schools they did not select.

“This is the second time CPEA has failed my children”, a mother from South Windward told SEARCHLIGHT.

She recalled two years ago her daughter was almost denied a place at the Girls’ High School, while others who didn’t do as well had the chance.

“It was the Prime Minister who had to step in, and now my son place in the top 250 boys, but because his overall is a little over 500, they sending him Carapan,” she said.

Bernadette Greaves, senior education officer in charge of Testing and Measurement, explained that the Ministry of Education operates on a policy where students who place in the first 500 students (overall) of the CPEA are assigned at a school of their choice, but that doesn’t necessarily mean their first or second choice.

“It all depends on their overall position. A student might place 130th for boys, but may not necessarily be placed at the Grammar School, depending on how much students the school has taken in,” the education officer said.

Those students who place from 501 onwards are placed by the Ministry at a school closest to them, Greaves said.

A total of 1,642 students registered to write the 2017 CPEA, 799 being females and 843 being males, but only 1,638 wrote the final exams. Over 85 per cent (1,398) met the prescribed standard, an increase in performance over 2016.