The reading and mathematics skills of students at targeted schools should see some improvement, following an allocation of $227.59 million to the Jamaica Basic Education Project.
This is contained in the 2013/14 Estimates of Expenditure, currently before the House of Representatives.
Being implemented by the Government of Jamaica,with funding from the United States Agency for International Development(USAID), the project aims to increase the reading fluency and foundation math skills in Grades One to Three at selected schools; and improve school performance and strengthen public-private partnership.
Among the achievements of the project up to February 2013, under the reading fluency component were: project sensitisation sessions conducted in the six regions; an online forum – www.jamaicaeducatorshare.com, has been developed; reading standards for Grades 1-3 have been developed; workshops for the Trainers of Teachers (TOTs) in reading standards have been conducted; and reading teachers have been trained.
Persons were also trained to use Jamaica School Administrative Software (JSAS) for data management and accountability; JSAS training was also conducted in 21 schools, including teachers from new project schools; the Early Reading Assessment Instrument (ERAI) was developed, and increased reading fluency to 90 per cent in targeted primary schools as measured by ERAI.
In addition, the training modules: ‘Reading Standards for Grades 1-3’ and ‘Strategies for the Effective Teaching of Reading’ were developed, including video clips of literacy strategies; teacher training workshops in the administration of ERAI were co-ordinated and conducted, and the ERAI piloted in 25 schools; proficiency levels were established for Grades 1, 2, and 3 and tested approximately 500 students in each grade.
Further, the reading leadership module was developed for principals in regions 1, 2, 4 and 6 to successfully manage the Reading Programme; Reading Coaches in 34 schools were trained in Regions 1, 2, 4 and 6; and Camp Summer Plus, 2012 was conducted across regions 1, 2, 4 and 6.
Under the mathematics skills component, which ended November 2012, the project had, among other things: conducted sensitisation sessions in the six regions; developed Mathematics standard for Grades 1-3; developed Mathematics Training Plan to guide the delivery of training over the life of the project; conducted workshops for the TOTs in Mathematics; developed the Early Mathematics Assessment Instrument and Administration manuals for Grades 1 and 2; established proficiency levels for Grades 1, 2 and 3 and mastery levels for Grades 1 and 2; and revised and finalised the Early Mathematics checklist (EMAC) for Grades 1, 2 and 3.
Anticipated targets for this fiscal year, include: completing and developing the handbook and training module to support the Balanced Reading Programme; training the TOTs and Reading Coaches to support the reading programme; identifying and training test administrators to administer ERAI; and printing and distributing test booklet and other test materials.
It is also expected that for the 2013/14 period, the development of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Leadership module for Principals will be completed and workshops conducted; workshops will be held with 172 principals in the use of the JSAS; the distribution of reading materials, laptops and multimedia projectors to selected project schools will be completed; and Camp Summer Plus 2013 will be conducted.
The project, which began in September, 2009, is slated to end in September, 2014.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter