GSAT Not a Good Placement Mechanism – Holness


Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, has said that the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) is not a good mechanism to determine the placement of students in secondary school and “should not be continued in the long run.”
He was speaking at a press conference held on June 11 at the Jessie Ripoll Primary School in Kingston, to provide details about the June 18 Grade Four Literacy Test.
According to the Mr. Holness, the Ministry will be placing greater emphasis on increasing literacy and numeracy at the primary level, to facilitate an easier transition by students to secondary school, which will eliminate the need to rank students for placement in high school and reduce the focus on GSAT.
GSAT replaced the Common Entrance Examination in 1999 and is used to place students at the secondary level based on their overall performance in the subject areas tested. The students with the highest grades are usually placed in the schools viewed as high performing, but Mr. Holness argued that this method of placement only serves to reinforce the “two-Jamaica syndrome”.
“We are so invested in GSAT, because we view GSAT as the vehicle of social mobility for our children, but GSAT has only served to create and reinforce the two-Jamaica syndrome and I don’t want to preside over that,” he stated.
He argued that the best strategy is to make sure that “all our children get the best possible chance and literacy is the way.” The Grade Four Literacy Test is one of the mechanisms being employed in this effort. It places focus on literacy competence and identifies those children with problems so that they can receive remedial attention over the next two years of their primary education.
“We are changing the paradigm of education in Jamaica, we cannot continue with the two-tier education system …we must not have a two-tier education system and… tests that are used to do that kind of stratification reinforces this,” the Minister stated.
Just under 50,000 students across the island are expected to sit the Grade Four Literacy Test, which, for the first time this year, will be administered as an external examination. Students must achieve mastery of the test, which includes a numeracy component, to sit GSAT.

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