Literacy Co-ordinator Confident Students will Master Test


National Literacy Co-ordinator, Laurel Brent-Harris is confident that with the Ministry of Education introducing the right resources, programmes, and intervention strategies, more students will master the Grade 4 Literacy Test.
Addressing a JIS ‘Think Tank’ recently, on the subject of the Ministry’s new literacy thrust, which is aimed at propelling Jamaica towards achieving 85 per cent literacy by 2015, the Co-ordinator explained that a child who could read at the Grade 4 level is deemed to have achieved basic literacy.
“The international standard for achievement of basic literacy, dictates that testing be done at the Grade 4 level. This is why we administer the Grade 4 Literacy Test.it is at this level that achieving mastery is critical,” she pointed out.
The Grade 4 Literacy Test, Mrs. Brent Harris informed, is patterned on the International Association for Assessment, a test that was piloted in 32 countries, including Trinidad & Tobago. In Jamaica, the test was modified to include a writing task and is comparable to tests which are administered in other countries.
The test has three sections: Word Recognition, Comprehension and Communication. Students must achieve passing scores on all three sections in order to be regarded as having achieved mastery. Those who perform above the cut score on two sections are classified as having achieved near mastery, while those who perform acceptably in only one section are classified at non-mastery.
“Educators have found that a number of children in the near mastery category simply need a little more help to move them to mastery. If they are scoring three to five points below the cut score, they would be in the near mastery category, so with a little more help, application of intervention strategies, and with the right resources and encouragement, these same students could easily move over into the mastery category. For this reason, we usually find that an additional 12 to 15 per cent of students are able to be categorised as achieving mastery, after the second administration of the test,” Mrs. Brent Harris pointed out.
Comparing Jamaica with other countries, she said that although literacy in Jamaica had not yet reached the desired level, it was faring better than many countries. “Although Jamaica is not where we want to be, we are still not at the bottom of the list, considering that one-fifth of the world’s population is illiterate,” she explained.
Mrs. Brent Harris noted that, while some countries were performing in the high 90s and mid 80s, Jamaica was in the high 70s, which represents an improvement from 64 per cent in 2005.
The Ministry of Education continues to place greater emphasis on the Grade 4 Literacy Test, as the means through which students will be certified ready to sit the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT).

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