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The Government is aiming to achieve 100 per cent literacy in all primary schools by 2015.
Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, making his contribution to the 2009/10 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (July 21), said that the goal is based on the educable population at Grade 6, with support to be provided for those with severe learning disabilities or physical impairment.
He said that in achieving the target, a structured approach will be instituted for the Grade Four Literacy Test, to ensure that all children transitioning to the secondary level are literate. Grade 4 literacy interventions currently administered during the summer will now become a part of the regular curriculum delivery.
Mr. Holness informed that the Ministry has increased its budget for literacy programmes for the current financial year and in addition to the existing 50 literacy specialists, 40 more will be hired during the course of the year along with 22 more numeracy specialists.
The role of the literacy specialist is to act as a coach for the teachers and in many cases the parents, to support and advise the school on implementing literacy interventions.
The Grade Four Literacy Test, which is the main standardised measure of literacy and the critical test for transition from primary to secondary, comprises three sections – word recognition, reading comprehension and a writing task.
Student performance is categorised at the levels of mastery, near mastery, and non-mastery.
Mastery of the test indicates that the student is functionally literate and has developed all the critical skills necessary to acquire knowledge. It effectively shows that the student would not be at risk of being illiterate at Grade 6.
All students are now required to be registered at Grade 4 for the test, which for the first time this year, was nationally administered.
“National administration of the test standardises the marking process, removes variations in assessment and increases confidence in the integrity of the results,” Mr. Holness told the House.
Meanwhile, preliminary results of the Grade Four Literacy Test this year show 73 per cent of students achieving mastery in the first sitting.
Last year, 71 per cent of students achieved mastery on the first sitting. After an intervention, an additional 10 per cent of the cohort was able to achieve mastery on the second sitting, bringing the final mastery number for 2008 to 81per cent.
“If we continue on our current trajectory, based on the results of the second sitting, we will be able to reach the goal of 100 per cent by 2015. However, efficiency of the education system must ultimately be judged by the attainment on the first sitting. Based on current projections by 2015, 88 per cent of students sitting the Grade Four Literacy should be literate,” Mr. Holness stated.