KINGSTON — The Ministry of Education says 71.4 per cent of students who sat the Grade Four Literacy Test in June achieved mastery, an increase of 4.4 percentage points over the 2010 results.
The results, revealed at a press briefing at the Ministry, Heroes Circle, Kingston on Wednesday (November 9), also showed that 19.6 per cent achieved almost mastery, while nine per cent achieved non-mastery. A total of 56,126 students sat the June 2011 examination, of which 9,655 were re-sitting. Of the 33, 148 students who achieved mastery, 56 per cent were females and 44 per cent were males.
Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, noted that the results show a recovery, pointing out that "we have regained the ground we lost last year".
The 2010 results of 67 per cent mastery, showed a drop from the 70 per cent mastery which was achieved in 2009.
Mr. Holness said he was not completely satisfied with the results, because his objective is to attain full mastery.
"But all in all… an increase is an increase and I think the nation can be satisfied that there is an improvement," he remarked.
He also stated that this year’s results not only showed a marked improvement in the performance of students in private schools, but also those from the public school system.
Of the 792 public schools, 790 entered 41, 672 students to sit the exam with approximately 69 per cent attaining mastery, 21 per cent attaining almost mastery and 10 per cent non-mastery. The percentage of the students that achieved mastery increased by four percentage points over the previous year’s performance. Of the 28,763 students who achieved mastery, 57 per cent were females and 43 per cent males.
The 236 private schools, with a population of 4,739 students, had 93 per cent mastery, six per cent almost mastery and one per cent non-mastery. This was an increase of five percentage points over last year. Fifty-one per cent of those who achieved mastery were females.
Mr. Holness remarked that the overall increase came about despite the changes that were made to the test this year.
"We changed the way in which the test was administered, and we changed the test instruments itself. I believe there would have been some persons who would have done better, if the change had not been made," he remarked.
Mr. Holness pointed out, however, that the changes were critical, as they impacted the efficient and effective marking and grading of the examination.
He pointed out that in the private schools Jamaica has already achieved universal literacy.
"Generally 90 per cent or more of the students enrolled in those schools attain universal literacy by Grade Four," said.
He noted that it was the Government’s mission to achieve a similar mark of universal literacy for the public school system, pointing out that they were doing significantly better than previous years.
“For public schools, in 2009 when we first had the Grade Four Literacy test, 67.3 per cent of students who sat the exam attained mastery. It fell in 2010 to 64.5 per cent and now it has increased to 69 per cent,” he informed.
Mr. Holness said Jamaicans can be proud of these results, “knowing that our public schools are doing significantly better than they did last year and I am expecting that this will be a trend that will continue into the future”.
The Prime Minister reiterated his target of universal literacy in public schools by 2015.
“I have set my hat where I may not reach it, but I’m stretching nonetheless – universal literacy for students at Grade Four between ages eight and nine at the first sitting of the Grade Four Literacy Test,” he stated.
In the meantime, he also noted that the results showed that there were six schools scoring between zero and 20 per cent literacy. In 2009 there were eight schools where the average mastery of the examined class was between zero and 20 per cent, in 2010 this number was nine.
He said that those schools beg for the Ministry’s attention, and will be examined to determine whether the low grades are a problem of leadership, resources, parental support or infrastructure.
The Grade Four Literacy test was administered nationally for the first time in 2009. All children at the Grade Four level are required to sit the test, as no child should be allowed to sit the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) without being certified as achieving mastery on the Grade 4 test.
By Athaliah Reynolds, JIS Reporter