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May 4, 2017

Ministry Says English P.S.E. Writing Improving

Nelson Longsworth

We detailed the travails of students taking the problem-solving paper for Mathematics in the Primary School Examination on Tuesday. While scores will not be ready until early June, marking has already been completed for part one of the examination, which was sat in April and featured both papers for English and one for Science. Like the Math paper, the English paper is divided into multiple-choice and a written or narrative section. This year for the narrative section, students were asked to write a letter using the prompt given to them as well as to write a story. Whereas previously, markers have highlighted poor and improper use of language and not much creativity, this year’s crop of students have turned out markedly better work. That’s what the director of the Examinations Unit, Nelson Longsworth told us earlier this week.


Nelson Longsworth, Director, Examinations Unit, Ministry of Education

“They’re seeing an increase in the quality of the scripts and even from last year we are seeing less ‘ungraded’ – because there is actually a result for a candidate that could be ungraded – and we are seeing far fewer than before. Ungraded could be because there was nothing legible for a grade to be administered; or they just left the paper blank; or they just missed the entire question completely – they didn’t answer the question as was asked. So at the end of the day, those would be the ungraded, but they are finding far less of those. And secondly, the length of the writing is increasing, so you find that students are writing much more for the story than before; they used to respond to the prompts exactly, with very brief writing; but now they are definitely getting more practice in writing, which is evident in the marking. We are seeing where the teachers are taking more time to address text writing style; definitely it counts against them because it is an English test; and so the mechanics and all of that [which] goes with the English language, syntax and all. So we are still seeing a few of them but not like in the past; we are seeing where there is some correction being made, definitely, and when teachers are correcting students, you see that as a result.”


P.S.E. papers are marked by high school and retired teachers. The questions are prepared months in advance and validated and pilot-tested before being randomly selected for entry into the final written papers.

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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