Assistant Chief Education Officer in the Student Assessment Unit of the Ministry of Education and Youth, Sephlin Myers-Thomas has expressed confidence that there will be no delays in the distribution of results for the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) this year.
Speaking at a JIS Think Tank, today (March 21) Mrs. Myers-Thomas said that the Ministry did not foresee any delay in the distribution process as the necessary structures have been implemented to ensure that both the schools and parents receive the results in a timely manner.
"The results will be out there in time.we're ahead of the game this year, all our processes are way ahead of our target timeline and we foresee no delays," she emphasized.
The Assistant Chief Education Officer was speaking against the background of the delay in the distribution of results last year, the major reason for which was the shortfall of some 3,800 places in Region Six.
In this regard, Mrs. Myers-Thomas pointed out that the Ministry had put a number of measures in place to ensure a smooth process this year, including the creation of more classroom spaces, particularly in the parishes of Clarendon and St. Catherine, which were most affected.
The schools that have benefited from additional classroom spaces include St. Jago High, Charlie Mount High and Jose Marti Technical High in St. Catherine; Bustamante High, Vere Technical High, Buelah, Green Park and Osbourne Store Primary & Junior High schools in Clarendon; Little London High in Westmoreland, Newell High in St. Elizabeth and St. Mary Technical High.
Other schools to benefit from expansion works include Central High and Glenmuir High schools in Clarendon, White Marl Primary and Junior High in St. Catherine, and Buff Bay High in Portland.
In addition, she said that the Ministry had procured the services of more markers up from 110 last year to 160 this year to ensure that this process is completed within the stipulated time frame of one week.
"We engaged over a 110 (markers) last year, and this year.in order to expedite the process we have increased the numbers to approximately 160 markers who will be guided by the officers in the Student Assessment Unit.and we have a week in which to do it (complete the marking process)," she stated.
Mrs. Myers-Thomas also stressed that parents did not have to be concerned that their children would not be placed, as it is a policy of the Ministry to ensure that every child is placed. "Every child is placed, we do not stop, we will work through nights to ensure that every last child when we are coming down to the wire is accounted for," she said.
She also re-affirmed the integrity of the GSAT results, noting that except for the written portion of the examination, all other aspects of the assessment are marked by a computer system, which generates the results. The Assistant Chief Education Officer further stressed that the marking of the written aspect of the examination is done at a standard, to which markers have to adhere.
"So a marker can't take it off the top of their head and say 'this paper values three out of six'. The process is standardized, which signifies that if there is a stroke on the paper or if the student writes a paragraph, what or how much it is worth," she pointed out.
The integrity of the process is very secure she noted, because no marker will grade two pieces of work written by the same candidate, who is only known by an identification number.
In addition she pointed out that markers are only allowed to grade papers outside of their own parish or zone.
Mrs. Myers-Thomas, in explaining the selection process for students, cited that it all begins with registration when students submit the name of the schools they would like to attend. In this regard, she noted that the placement of a student initially depends on two factors: the school that was chosen, and the availability of space in that school, based on the performance of the student.
She further noted that it is only when the computer system has not placed a candidate that the Ministry, in collaboration with the respective regional office, manually finds a place for that student. More than 52,000 students across the island will sit the GSAT on March 29 and 30 across the island.