Reading and Mathematics Improve at Aeolus Valley


Students at the Aeolus Valley All-age School in Yallahs, St. Thomas, have shown improvement in the areas of reading and mathematics since the New Horizons for Primary Schools (NHP) project was implemented at the institution in September 1999.
Aeolus Valley All-age is one of 72 schools that were selected to be part of the programme.
The NHP is a seven-year, joint initiative by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Government of Jamaica. The project is assisting the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture to improve the literacy and numeracy of students in selected primary schools throughout Jamaica.
“We have seen the improvement and teachers are quite conscious of their roles in this project,” Principal of Aeolus Valley All-age, Freddie Bingham told JIS News, adding that the school was now in its fifth year of the project. The project also incorporates a school improvement plan.
Mr. Bingham said that the reading and mathematics materials were provided for students doing the subjects.
“Specialists monitor the students and hold demonstration lessons, give supervision to the programme and are always there to facilitate and to encourage the fostering of student centred learning,” he said.
He informed that during this year the focus would be on “teacher quality” and the “management of cooperative learning.” One aspect of the project, he said, included a subject called DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) in the school’s curriculum. During a DEAR session, everyone at the school, including teachers, reads for approximately 20 to 30 minutes. He said that this occurred twice per week after the lunch break when a bell was rung to signal the start of the reading period.
Another reading strategy under the NHP, he said, was the USSR (Uninterrupted Sustained Silent Reading), which was done two days during the week between 1:00 p.m. and 1:20 p.m.
“So be you principal, janitor, cook, teacher student, everybody gets involved at that time to ensure that there is that sustained silent reading. That I believe has been one of the high points in the new horizon programme,” he added.
In addition, he said, remedial classes were held for weaker students working with a curriculum designed to have a “mixed ability grouping of students where the strong helps the weak.”
“We are saying that those who have the ability should help those who need that pepping up so that they may come up to the standard that is required. I believe that it fosters good will. It fosters good spirit amongst student and in the long run, there is an atmosphere of friendliness and love among our students, because they Mr. Bingham pointed out that at the end of every six weeks, the students were assessed to see how well they have performed and for teachers to keep abreast of how well they have been interpreting their lessons.
Students are also encouraged to keep a student’s journal to feature some of the best activities that they have done and to record events at the school. These journals were also assessed, he said.
The Principal lamented the lack of adequate space at the school, noting that the 287 students were hampered because of inadequate facilities that prevented them from having “meaningful classes and for them to explore the concepts that are required in the new curriculum.”
He said the school’s development team was planning to raise funds, in order to purchase a container to house a library and learning resource centre at the school. Members of the development team include the principal of the school, chairman of the school board, the guidance counsellor, two persons from the business community, president of the PTA and the Education Officer for the area.
Mr. Bingham said that there were also plans to expand a computer laboratory, which was equipped with three computers. He noted that on completion of this facility the school would need another 20 computers for the full complement.

JIS Social