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Minister of Education, Andrew Holness is lauding the benefits of the Grade One Inventory Diagnostic Test, explaining that it serves as an excellent means of engaging parents in the education process.
The Test is administered to students as soon as they enter primary school at age six and assesses the child’s academic readiness for the Grade One curriculum.
Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ recently, on the Ministry’s focus on early development of literacy skills, Minister Holness said: “What is most interesting about this programme of tests at the early stage is the way in which it engages the parents of these children. It is at this stage of a child’s life that parents are most concerned in knowing how ready their children are for the formal education system.”
The test, he explained, was tantamount to taking an inventory of the child’s basic skills when first entering primary school.
“If it is found that the child is deficient in certain areas of the curriculum, then it enables the teacher to develop a programme of learning to suit the child,” he pointed out.
In the absence of the test and the necessary intervention, the Minister noted that the child would get progressively worse and not being able to deal with the curriculum. “It’s like the old proverb ‘a stitch in time saves nine,'” Mr. Holness said.
The objective of the early test, is consistent with the Ministry’s emphasis on early development of literacy skills, as a tool to enhancing student outcomes in all areas of the curriculum. According to Mr. Holness, the early acquisition of literacy skills would provide a sustained thrust to propel literacy in Jamaica.
The test is administered by the Grade One teacher in small groups over a one-week period in September. It tests how well students can colour a picture, understand what they hear or see and know beginning numbers or letters. The information that is collected and analysed is used in organizing the necessary intervention programmes for each child with learning difficulties.
Speaking about the role of parents at this stage, Minister Holness pointed out that when parents are brought into the loop with reports about the performance of their children, they have a greater tendency to support their children’s learning programme.
Designed to assess students on 33 items in four cognitive areas – Visual Motor Co-ordination, Visual Perception, Auditory and Number and Letter Knowledge – the Grade One test is marked by the class teacher, using the scoring guide provided by the Student Assessment Unit of the Ministry of Education.