The Ministry of Education will unveil proposals that will result in significant changes to the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) on Thursday afternoon (April 8).
Minister of Education, Hon Andrew Holness
The findings and recommendations of the GSAT Review Committee will be presented at a public consultation at Decarteret College, Mandeville, which starts at 5 p.m.
The consultation is among several that will be conducted in the Ministry’s six regions between now and the end of May.
Among the proposals to be presented is the inclusion of a Continuous Assessment component in the GSAT. This will take the form of a book review done at Grade 5 from a choice of three books that are consistent with the Revised Primary Curriculum. The books will be assigned from Grade 4, with the report due by the end of Grade 5. This component is being included to promote reading among children, and other skills such as reasoning and understanding. The Continuous Assessment component will be school-based, and scored in keeping with standards the Ministry will provide to schools. This new element will contribute 15 percent to the relevant GSAT Language Arts Test Paper.
GSAT will continue to consist of five distinct papers administered over two days and will be a test of readiness. The five test papers will be Mathematics, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies and a Grade Six Literacy Proficiency Test, which will replace the Communications Task; this will serve as an index of measurement of literacy at the end of Grade six.
This paper will examine students’ ability to apply relevant decoding skills, read for meaning at the literal, inferential and critical levels, as well as their ability to use Standard Jamaican English to write for a range of purposes.
The revised GSAT will be used for placement until the need for more quality spaces is addressed. A policy on zoning for placement is also up for discussion.
In recent years, there has been a wave of negative public reactions to the GSAT. Following the publication of the 2008 results, Minister of Education, the Hon Andrew Holness, established a committee which he mandated to conduct a thorough review of the examination.
The committee comprised Curriculum and Assessment Specialists, Education Officers and teachers representing both the primary and secondary levels. The committee undertook several pieces of research as it sought to explore the issues related to the GSAT.
The research, carried out by specialist sub-groups of the Review Committee, examined issues related to the content area of the curriculum being assessed, especially Science and Social Studies, placement at the secondary level, as well as demand for “quality” secondary spaces.
The committee also looked at the management and administration of the GSAT with a view to improving the efficacy and efficiency of test administration.
The findings and proposals will be shared with participants at the various consultation sessions planned. The consultations are aimed at soliciting the public’s input as the Ministry of Education seeks to re shape GSAT.