Pass rate in CSEC Mathematics down by 13.64 per cent
October 11, 2019
Pass rate in CSEC Mathematics down by 13.64 per cent

by Katherine Renton

St Vincent and the Grenadines dropped by 13.64 per cent between last year and this year’s recorded pass rate for Mathematics at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations.

According to an analysis of the CSEC results by the Ministry of Education, a 33.10 per cent pass rate was recorded this year after only 418 of the 1262 students who sat the exam, achieved between grades one to three.

In contrast, there was a 46.74 per cent pass rate for Mathematics in 2018, a 40.13 per cent success rate in 2017, an above 47 per cent pass rate in both 2016 and 2014, and even a 57.05 per cent pass rate recorded in 2015.

However, the pass rate only surpassed 50 per cent in 2015, and pass rates of 28.44 per cent, 27.99 per cent, and 26.94 per cent were noted in 2013, 2012 and 2011 respectively.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves had been so disappointed by the performance in Math in 2012 that he had sought to have a national conversation on what could have been the cause of this. However, the conversation, which should have been between the ministry, teachers, the teachers’ union, parents, students and other stakeholders, never took place.

The need for a conversation in 2012 had also arisen from poor performance in English A that year, with a pass rate of 49.97 per cent. However, this subject has improved, and SVG recorded the highest pass rate this year, that it has had in over a decade, with 76.08 per cent. Since 2012, the lowest pass rate recorded for English A was 58.92 per cent, and this was in 2013.

Although Math continues to be a problem for SVG, the Chief Education Officer(CEO), Elizabeth Walker, in speaking with SEARCHLIGHT recently, noted that “The low pass rate for Maths is not only a national issue, it’s a regional issue.”

The overall pass rate recorded in the region for Math this year was 46 per cent, down from 49 per cent in 2018, but up from 44.64 per cent in 2017. Among the countries whose media reported their performance, Grenada had a 38.59 per cent pass rate, Jamaica a 54.6 per cent success rate, and Dominica recorded a 46.7 per cent pass rate.

Walker indicated that she could not comment on the past efforts at improving the situation, since she had been appointed CEO in January of this year.

However, she stated that there are a number of factors which may be identified as the cause of the issue.

“There are factors that are in school factors. There are out-of-school factors. The Ministry would be directly concerned with the in-school factors. So it has to do with training of teachers, deployment of staff and resources and identifying where the challenges are,” she stated.

Some areas which the Ministry is working on are training for the teachers, resource material for the schools and remediation programs.

She also elaborated, “We are trying based on what the teachers are saying are their challenges, we are trying to have it addressed at the lower school. If we get it right at the Primary, then it’s not going to be a problem at the Secondary. So we have programs in place where we’re training professional development for teachers, trying to get additional resources.”