Committee Finds GSAT System Sound and Credible

The committee of inquiry, set up to probe the integrity of the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) system, has found that there were no irregularities in the process, and that examination results were sound and credible.
Minister of Education and Youth, Maxine Henry Wilson, told the House of Representatives yesterday (Feb. 27) that the report from the committee, which has been submitted to Cabinet, was “very commendatory of the staff that is responsible both for the preparation and administration of the examination”.
Among the recommendations of the committee, she said, was that the scheduling of the examination should be re-examined. “One of the observations that they made is that since the examination is curriculum-bound, the time between the setting of the examination and the period when the results are to be published, this time is very tight. However, as we pointed out to them, while we are willing to take a look at that, the fact of the matter is that students need to complete the curriculum before they are able to do the exam,” the Education Minister said.
Re-scheduling of the examination, she pointed out, would mean that more of the curricula would have to be placed in grade five.
While the committee summarized the GSAT examination process as robust and well-designed to retain confidentiality of the exam, it noted deficiencies in respect of the availability of secondary spaces, particularly in region six.
The committee was commissioned by Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller last year, following delays in the publishing of the 2006 GSAT results, which the Ministry blamed on the shortage of some 3,800 places in region six.
The committee’s mandate was to determine the reason for the publication of the GSAT results at the end of June instead of mid-June, as is customary; to examine the entire education process, and the extent to which the process ensured the security of data; and to determine any concerns that would arise from a leakage of information.
The report said that there was an inadequacy of public information from the Ministry with respect to the change in the timeline for the publication, and that the change management related to the digital publication of the 2006 results, had been inadequate.
According to the Ministry, some 52,721 students are expected to sit the 2007 GSAT examinations, which are scheduled for March 29 and 30.

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