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Statement on School Improvement

Education 08 May, 2023 Follow News

Hon Juliana O’Connor-Connolly

From the Honourable Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, JP, MP

The Ministry of Education recently published its Education Data Report for 2021-2022. However, concerns about the report needing more evidence of school improvement overall have been raised. While we value constructive feedback, it is essential also to recognise the positive developments.

Compared to the previous inspection cycle in 2018/2019, government schools have shown notable improvements during the 2022 cycle in the following areas:

• Reduced weak “Self-evaluation and improvement planning” judgements by 12 per cent from 18 per cent weak judgements to six per cent,

• Reduced weak “Teaching” judgements at secondary by 20 per cent from 20 per cent weak judgements to zero per cent,

• Reduced weak “Assessment” judgements at secondary by 40 per cent from 40 per cent weak judgements to zero per cent,

• Reduced weak “Curriculum” judgements at primary by nine per cent from nine per cent weak judgements to zero per cent,

• Maintained weak “Curriculum” judgements at secondary of zero per cent

• Reduced weak “Support and guidance” judgements at primary by nine per cent from nine per cent weak judgements to zero per cent,

• Reduced weak “Support and guidance” judgements at secondary to zero per cent,

• Reduced weak “Teaching” judgements at primary by nine per cent from nine per cent weak judgements to zero per cent, and

• Reduced weak “Leadership” judgements by six per cent from six per cent weak judgements to zero per cent.

Also, for the Government schools that were inspected in Cycle 2:

Inspectors recorded improved judgements for Government primary and secondary schools in the area of “Positive Behaviour for Learning” between Cycle 1 and Cycle 2, where the average rating falls above the good band as defined by the Inspection Framework and Learning by students in Government primary schools remained within the Satisfactory range across the two inspection cycles, while Government secondary schools improved their learning judgements to Good. 

The information provided shows that Government schools have made noteworthy progress during the inspection cycles. The lack of negative evaluations in the areas assessed by the OES indicates that schools are working hard to attain excellence.

Overall, student attainment in math was not ideal. This is not an isolated issue in the Cayman Islands, as there has been a global decline in student performance in mathematics compared to 2020 and 2021. 

One of the factors impacting this reality in 2020 is the manner in which grades were assigned to students by examining boards, through teacher-assessed grades rather than standardised external tests.

Of note, the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) was one of a very small group of examination boards that actually administered their CSEC exams in 2020 and 2021, albeit with some changes.

Countries that used these international and regional exam boards saw a decrease in the percentage of high-level grades for 2022 compared to 2021. Worldwide, the percentage of 2022 high-level passes was similar to those achieved in 2019.

The same is true for the Cayman Islands, where math scores for Year 11 in 2022 were statistically equivalent to those in 2019.

It is important to mention that despite expectations, public schools are adding value to students in math, English, and science.

The Year 11 group in 2022 performed better than expected by over ¾ of a grade point on average in all three subjects. Additionally, they exceeded expectations by over a grade point in English and science.

The Ministry is taking steps to enhance students’ progress and academic performance in math.

In this vein, we are in the midst of implementing the Schools’ Numeracy Strategy, which includes training for School Leaders in the National Center for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics Mastery Pathway.

Our educators are also participating in professional development sessions to improve students’ confidence and support teaching fundamental math concepts. Once fully trained, school practitioners will use a combination of diagnostic, formative, and summative assessments to determine the level of intervention, consolidation, or enrichment needed for each student. 

Additionally, we are recruiting 14 specialist math teachers to be placed in primary schools at the start of the 2023/2024 academic year.

We understand that it takes time to see improvements in student performance. Research has shown that it typically takes around three years to see successful changes in an elementary school and up to six years in a secondary school.  

Our Ministerial programs and initiatives, initiated by the DES, demonstrate our schools’ steady progress over time.

Our commitment to providing the best educational opportunities for our children remains strong.

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