KINGSTON – The Ministry of Education is reporting that all is in place for the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT), which is scheduled for Thursday, March 24 and Friday, March 25.
Approximately 43,000 students across the island are slated to sit the examination.
Minister of Education, Andrew Holness is encouraging parents and guardians to play a supportive role in the process, to ensure that the students will perform at their best during the examination.
“GSAT is probably the most important exam that any student will take in his or her lifetime, and the pressure that is brought on them, for some it is unbearable. An encouraging word can do far more than you believe it can and I would encourage parents that as much as you can, love and support your child,” he said.
The Minister was speaking at a press conference at the Ministry’s Heroes Circle offices in Kingston, today March 22, to give an update on the examination.
He said that encouragement, coupled with revision, are critical and can help to improve the performance of the child.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Audrey Sewell informed that 1,100 centres have been prepared and more than 1,100 presiding examiners and 2,000 invigilators have been contracted and trained.
“This year we made every effort to ensure that the timetables were dispatched very early. We sent them out and asked for feedback, after the schools had reviewed them. The timetables were subsequently finalised and dispatched,” she said.
She said that packages have so far been sent out to two regions, and that today March 22 packages will go out to three regions and tomorrow March 23, one region.
The Permanent Secretary further advised that telephone numbers have been assigned in all the regions, so that queries may be addressed. Region One – Kingston and St. Andrew, 948-9388; Region Two – St. Thomas, St. Mary and Portland, 993-5586; Region Three – St. Ann and Trelawny, 917-7849; Region Four – St. James, Hanover and Westmoreland, 979-8590; Region Five- Manchester and St. Elizabeth, 625-7859; and Region Six – Clarendon and St. Catherine, 983-1654-5.
Chief Education Officer in the Ministry, Grace McLean pointed out that special arrangements are being made to accommodate all special needs students.
“We have readers and writers who have been trained. The centres in which these special students will be sitting, they have been identified and the students are at this time getting familiar with these centres. We are asking our teachers as well as our parents if there are any concerns regarding our special children, they should bring these to the attention of the region or call the other numbers provided,” she said.
Mrs. McLean further advised that all students, even those unregistered, will be allowed to sit the examination, but their records (including copies of their birth certificate) must be submitted to the regional offices by Monday, March 28.
If a child is at the requisite age and has mastered the grade four literacy test, then his or her papers will be marked and the child will be placed. If not, the papers will not be scored and the child will be placed in the Alternative Secondary Transitional Education Programme (A-STEP).
All Grade Six students were registered under the Ministry of Education’s National Student Registration (NSR) System. Students eligible for the GSAT were drawn from the cohort certified literate from the Grade Four Literacy Test.
There were approximately 51,000 registrants, of which over 2,000 were deferred to sit GSAT in 2012 and over 6,000 were students who had not attained mastery on the Grade Four Literacy Test, after being given the four opportunities. These students who are not certified literate are to be placed in the A-STEP.
Under GSAT, students will be tested in five areas of the primary school curriculum; namely Mathematics, Social Studies, Language Arts, Science and Communication Tasks.
By CHRIS PATTERSON, JIS Reporter