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Jun 6, 2017

Results Still Average; Slight Improvement for Math, English

Earlier you saw some of the top performers from twenty five highest overall marks – but they represent just a fraction of the seven thousand plus students who sat the exam. The results, as described by the ministry, are average. According to a preliminary release issued by the Ministry of Education, only fifty percent of the students who sat English scored a satisfactory level or better than C grade. For Math, only thirty-seven percent obtained satisfactory pass mark. Social Studies, on the other hand, showed impressive numbers with seventy-two percent of the students scoring C or better.  In Science, there was a significant decrease – with only fifty-eight percent of the students getting C or better – and when compared to 2016 that percentage was at seventy percent.  We spoke with Nelson Longsworth of the Examination Unit within the Ministry.

 

Nelson Longsworth

Nelson Longsworth, Director of Examination Unit, MoE

“Overall we continue to see similar performance to previous years with slight improvement in Math; a significant improvement in Social Studies; English we have seen a slight gain; but we have seen a down in Science, overall, for 2017.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Thirty-seven percent I believe in Math – what continues to be the problem area in Math?”

 

Nelson Longsworth

“Well, there are quite a lot but from the examination perspective we are definitely seeing some improvement in the overall marking; when we mark the problem solving paper we are seeing less ungraded paper; that is an improvement because before we had quite a number of students who didn’t answer any of the questions. We are seeing far less of that, but children continue to fail at being able to understand clearly what solution they need to apply to the problem; the understanding of the concept that need to be applied for each of the ten problems that is assigned in that paper; that is the paper that generally gives them the most trouble and it continues to be the weakest area of the system.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Would you say this goes back to the classroom and how these lessons are being taught?”

 

Nelson Longsworth

“It could be tied to that for sure; foundation is also a big issue. We have children moving all the way through the system with very weak numeracy skills; extremely weak. And obviously if you are weak in the basic skills, it will show u when you sit especially that Paper Two.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“A lot of our students are still not performing well in English; is there anything that is jumping out immediately at the Ministry as to what is causing this? Perhaps the writing component of the paper?”

 

Nelson Longsworth

“Definitely all areas of English would pose difficulty to most of our children; it’s not their first language. It’s a challenge from the get go and a lot of other influences – the system would draw on where would there be good examples of English being spoken and they are too far and few in between; so that support would definitely narrow that and that contrast is not there where that could model from. It plagues the entire exam system because when you are a poor English student it definitely interferes with being able to do well in Math or any of the other subjects, so it is a critical subject area. But comprehension is definitely big on the agenda, more complex understanding of what they read definitely  continues to challenge them.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Looking overall at the PSE results, the Math, English, Science and Social Studies combined – how would you describe Belize’s performance overall?”

 

Nelson Longsworth

“Well, we, it is average. Most of the subjects are above adequate but it is not where we want to be and not where we want to stay for sure. We cannot feel comfortable about being there. We cannot give up on our children. We need to continue working, all involved in education and parents themselves need to support this. Schools can only do so much so it will still require the entire society as whole.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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