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Seventy-two  per cent of students who sat the Grade Four Literacy Test in June this year achieved mastery, a three per cent increase over last year’s results.

Outlining the outcomes in the House of Representatives on December  4, Education Minister, Rev. the Hon Ronald Thwaites, said the overall percentage is expected to increase after the results from the scheduled second sitting of the examination  on Wednesday (December 5), are calculated.

In 2011 the results showed 69 per cent mastery at the first administration of the test, but that figure jumped to 83.7 per cent after the results of the re-sit were factored in.

The Minister, while giving details of the examination results, reiterated the Ministry’s goal of achieving 100 per cent literacy of the educable cohort by 2015.

“This target translates to 85 per cent of the educable grade four cohort achieving mastery by 2015. It is estimated that about 15 per cent of the grade four cohorts suffer from educational challenges of one sort or another, which take them out of the mainstream of preparation for this examination,” Rev. Thwaites said.

He added that overall, the students’ performances have been steadily improving since the test was administered nationally in 2009.

Meanwhile, Rev. Thwaites said the Education Ministry would be looking into refining its literacy standards, as research indicates that many students are able to read but unable to express themselves verbally.

“What we notice, and that is of some concern, is that many of the students who achieve mastery at grade four are not able, particularly in their expression of English Language, to do very well at later grades and therefore we have to look carefully at what mastery stands for,” the Education Minister said.

Just under 60,000 students in schools across the island wrote the Grade Four Literacy Test.

The national comprehensive literacy programme commenced in March 2009 as a direct response to one of the recommendations of the Task Force Report on Education in Jamaica 2004, that the Ministry should address the low levels of literacy among school aged children, particularly at the primary level of the education system.