JIS News

Grade Four teacher at the Mineral Heights Primary School in Clarendon, Sean Thomas Murray, says that for students to do well in the annual Grade 4 Literacy Test, it is important that the parents become involved in their education.
“Even though we call in the parents and tell them about the exam, sometimes the parents you really want to see are not the ones you get to see,” Mrs. Thomas Murray told JIS News.
“You will send out circulars and call the parents, but the ones who turn up are those whose child, or children are already reading and are up to the grade level. The parents of the children who are not performing are the ones who do not turn up. For [literacy development] to be effective, the home has to be involved,” she explained.
The success of the students, she insisted, requires the combined effort of teachers, students, principal and parents.
According to Mrs. Thomas Murray, the school implements a number of strategies to get children to learn, as part of preparations for the Grade 4 Literacy Test.
“Every class goes to the reading room at least once per week, but Grade 4 has gone a bit further, in that they are pulled from the regular class setting on Thursdays, and they stay in the reading room for the entire day,” she outlined.
“The students who are sent to the reading room, are those who are performing below the Grade 4 levels, and the reading teacher would focus on word recognition, comprehension and writing tasks,” she informed.
The parents are also involved in the preparation. At the beginning of the term, we call in the parents and sensitise them about the Grade 4 Literacy Test. We give them ideas on some of the things they can do to help the students. For example, to label things in the household, such as the refrigerator, television and bed, so the children would become familiar with these words and be able to identify and spell them,” she elucidated.
Other strategies include making word cards and developing a print rich environment.
“Teachers, at a class level, also employ different methods. For example, we allow the students to make word cards, and we give them a list of words they can take home. We try to have a very print rich environment, and some of the Grade 4 teachers have extra classes on Saturdays for students who are below the grade level,” she stated.
Mrs. Thomas Murray insists that the strategies have been effective and that, for the most part, students at Mineral Heights Primary are ready for the Grade 4 Literacy Test. The school attained 89 per cent mastery in last year’s Grade 4 Literacy Test.
“We are not quite there yet, but we are preparing and will be ready for the Grade 4 Literacy Test. We have seen much improvement, especially in the students’ writing skills,” she pointed out.
She said that, when they came to Grade 4, most of the children were unable to tell their addresses, but they were now writing letters and recognising words.
“So we have seen a lot of improvement, and it even shows in the percentage literacy we have had over the years”, she observed.
Mineral Heights Primary has a school population of approximately 1600, about 300 of whom will sit the Grade 4 Literacy Test on Thursday, June 18.
The Grade 4 Literacy Test is one of the assessment instruments used by the Ministry of Education to assist primary school teachers to improve instruction and learning. Just under 50,000 students are expected to be involved in this year’s test.

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