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Mathematics performance in the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) is expected to be at 65 per cent by 2015, with the interventions being implemented by the numeracy specialists, as part of the Education Transformation Programme.
National Mathematics Co-ordinator, Mrs. Tamika Benjamin, gave this projection today (March 3), during a JIS ‘Think Tank’. March 3 is also being celebrated as World Mathematics Day in schools islandwide.
“We are looking to get our GSAT average to about 65 per cent by 2015. We are now hovering in the 50s. Once the grade four national average is determined for 2009, we will then use that data, do an analysis of the underperforming schools and then we will be able to set targets, and we set targets incrementally. so that we can monitor progress,” she explained.
According to Mrs. Benjamin, since the introduction of numeracy specialists in 2008, they have been encouraging teachers to move away from the ‘chalk and talk’ method of delivery.
“We provided focused attention on improving delivery by promoting a focus on conceptual understanding, computational fluency and problem solving skills, so we try to move the teachers away from the chalk and talk methodology, the rote learning, following of steps or algorithms, and [encourage] them to structure their lessons in such a way where they focus on understanding the basic concept that would then be applied to more complex situations,” she pointed out, while informing that the specialists assist teachers to develop their lesson plans.
“They try to be proactive and they will be visiting the schools consistently between that planning session and the next, so that if they identify weaknesses in the delivery, they are able to provide specialist support in that area,” she added.
Currently, the 57 numeracy specialists are supporting 327 primary schools islandwide which are deemed to be critical.
“We averaged the performance for all the primary schools from 2005 to 2007. The Ministry of Education defines underperforming as schools below 60 per cent. There were a lot of schools falling below 50 per cent, so that showed where we needed to focus our attention and since we knew we would not have been able to identify and deploy so many specialists as would have been needed, we decided to look at the most critical ones below 50 per cent and that’s how the 327 schools were identified,” the Co-ordinator noted.
In the meantime, she explains that her team has developed a number of strategies to further enhance the teaching and learning of Mathematics.
“The team has also developed some diagnostic tools for grades two to five and the plan is that they be administered at the beginning of each school year and teachers will be able to identify the areas of misconceptions and plan a very detailed programme for those students, that is specific to their needs,” said.
Mrs. Benjamin explained that for the 2010 to 2011academic year the team will be looking at developing resources for sustained improvement, and “so we will be looking at developing sample lesson plans to support the delivery of the primary curriculum, and a scope and sequence to guide teachers in curriculum delivery.”