JIS News

The Ministry of Education is developing a diagnostic tool to asses the reading level of students up to grade nine, as part of a strategic plan on literacy.
The tool should be available to teachers in time for the start of the new school year in September, said National Literacy Co-ordinator at the Ministry, Laurel Brent-Harris.
“We are in the final stage of developing a Grade 4-6 literacy programme, which articulates with the Literacy 1-2-3 strategy and there is a diagnostic tool that is being developed that teachers will have come September to determine the reading level of students from the pre-primary to the grade nine levels,” she stated during a recent ‘Think Tank’ session at the JIS headquarters in Kingston.
As part of the thrust, the number of literacy specialists operating in schools will be increased from 50 to 90, while the regional literacy co-ordinators will offer support through enrichment programmes to schools, not currently benefitting through the cluster specialists.
Schools have also been asked to identify a literacy lead teacher to liaise with the specialists and assist with school-based literacy related activities, Mrs. Brent-Harris informed.
This strategic plan is in keeping with the new competence-based transition policy developed by the Ministry, which will ensure that every child progressing to secondary school is literate. It was developed following an analysis of the National Assessment Programme (NAP).
“An analysis of the 2007 National Assessment Programme was done and we found that 15, 200 or 30 per cent of the students assessed at Grade 1 were not ready to access primary education,” Brent-Harris said.
In addition, 12,250 or 29 per cent of Grade 4 students did not achieve the mastery level on the Grade 4 Literacy Test, while 8,000 or 16 per cent of Grade 6 students had not attained minimum levels of literacy on the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT). “In light of these, the Ministry is now introducing a policy to regulate pupil flow from primary to the secondary level and the policy direction is that no child will be allowed to sit the GSAT examination unless he or she is certified as literate,” the National Literacy Co-ordinator stated.
Starting this year, the sitting of the Grade 4 test will be held in June, and there will be a supplemental examination in December for those students, who have moved into Grade 5 but did not achieve mastery while they were in Grade 4.
Students will have four chances to take the test between Grades 4 and 6, which will qualify them to sit GSAT in 2011. Those students, who have not gained mastery up to that time, will be provisionally registered for GSAT, but will only be allowed to sit the examination if they gained passes in the Grade 4 Literacy Test, Mrs. Brent-Harris explained, noting that provision will be made for them to get extra support through the different intervention programmes of the Ministry.
The National Literacy Co-ordinator pointed out that the Education Ministry is committed to ensuring that students are adequately prepared for all stages of the school system and is committed to providing additional specialists and space, and to develop customised programmes to meet the needs of students.
She appealed to the various stakeholders to support the literacy thrust. “I want to emphasise that success depends on support from all stakeholders. The MOE cannot do it alone. We need the support of parents, non governmental organisations, private sector and corporate Jamaica to come on board and make literacy the number one activity that brings about change in our Jamaican society,” she urged.

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