New school-leaving exam to help with learning loss

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly.

EDUCATION Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said Government will implement the lower secondary proficiency examination, formerly known as school leaving exam, to ensure all primary school students have basic numeracy and literacy skills needed to continue their education.

Speaking during the post-Cabinet media conference at the Diplomatic Centre in Port of Spain on Thursday, Gadsby-Dolly said this would be a certification programme that would take similar form to its predecessor, the school leaving programme.

“We have given two years for the students to obtain the fundamentals of their numeracy and literacy skills,” she said.

“These students will be enrolled in form 2. This is not the SEA. The SEA is not a certification, it is a placement exam.

“This exam is for the students who have done that (sat the SEA) but have not developed the kind of skills that are required.

“They will be enrolled in the same way that students would go to a post primary school so they would have the time to develop those skills.”

She said students who are under-prepared (for secondary school) would be under particular risk of dropping out of the system completely.

“They are at risk of dropping out with nothing at all, no certification at all.

“I want us to think forward to a couple years when we are looking for professionals to take up the jobs that will carry us forward.

“We have to produce the professionals that we need and if we have a large contingent coming out of our system under prepared we are going to have a serious issue,” Gadsby-Dolly said.

She also spoke of another initiative, the vacation revision programme, which is geared at boosting students who fell under a certain marks percentage in the SEA exam, in order to help them transition to secondary school.

She said while the vacation revision programme treats with remedial work for learning loss in the short term, the lower secondary proficiency examination will treat with long-term learning loss.

She added that the timetable adjustment for the operation of the school-based intervention team has been implemented.

The team, comprising of the principal, certain teachers and the student support services, would look at and take recommendations of the achievements and deportment of students to identify their needs.

This programme will be implemented in 26 schools.

A social worker and guidance counsellor is also appointed to the schools as well as a special education instructor.

“We also reached out to the PTA and we would have further discussions with them in ensuring that the schools have a fully functioning PTA because the NPTA also has plans to intervene in schools and we want to partner with them,” she said.