All set for GSAT - Grade-six students islandwide gear up for examination

Published: Thursday | March 19, 2009

Petrina Francis, Staff Reporter

Kisha Goulbourne, a Grade Six Achievement Test teacher at St Aloysius Primary School in Kingston, gave extra lesson to students yesterday, as they prepare for next week's exams. - Norman Grindley/Chief Photographer

The National Parent-Teacher Association of Jamaica (NPTAJ) says it expects improved results in the much-anticipated Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT), which will be administered next Thursday and Friday.

Almost 50,000 grade-six students are registered to sit the examination, which is in its 10th year.

"I think from the last outcry, we have had a little better understanding from parents to be more in touch with the school community and become more involved in the supervision of their children. So, we anticipate better results this year," said Miranda Sutherland, president of the NPTAJ.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education said all was in place for the staging of the examination.

Sharon Neil, assistant chief education officer at the Student Assessment Unit in the Ministry of Education, said schools, which will be used as examination centres, will be closed for both days of the examination.

Neil pointed out that presiding examiners and invigilators were in place to ensure that examination conditions were maintained, which would allow each child to do his or her best.

Neil reminded students that they should be at the examination centre at least 15 minutes before the start of each test.

Students will be assessed on their performance in mathematics, science, social studies, language arts and communication tasks.

Kandi-Lee Crooks-Smith, principal of Allman Town Primary School in Kingston, said her students were generally prepared for the GSAT.

"A few are nervous. Even after the practice test, they are taking the results seriously. So we are encouraging them to relax, because GSAT is not the end of their lives," said Crooks-Smith.

The principal told The Gleaner the school had invited the Ministry of Education to speak with parents "because they can pressure the children at times".

Loss in hanover school

Things weren't so simple in Hanover, where students at Kendal Primary School are trying their best to prepare amid sadness.

On February 28, their teacher, Winsome McNeil, died suddenly. She was buried last Saturday.

Jennifer Baugh, principal of the school, said the 45 students were traumatised, but had received counselling, she added that another teacher was working to get them ready for the examination.

"They talk so much about her (McNeil)," Baugh said.

The Ministry of Education said in February that it would make changes to the GSAT.

According to the ministry, a preliminary study showed that the test was not adequately meeting the demands of the nation's changing education sector.

Recommendations for gsat

Several suggestions have been made regarding possible changes to the examination.

One suggestion is that the GSAT should have age categories and should not be limited to one sitting for the purpose of placement.

There is also the recommendation that strategies be explored to improve placement decisions and provide more equitable access to secondary education.

The education ministry also said that among the strategies being considered are a student identification numbering system, the ranking and classification of schools, the zoning of schools and the creation of a school-improvement act, aimed at helping in the expansion of high-quality school places.