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Dr Tim: Primary schools excelling

...800% improved performance since 2011

By Julien Neaves

THE NUMBER of primary schools excelling under the Academic Performance Index (API) improved by 800 per cent from 2011 to 2012.

And, the number of schools under academic watch was reduced by approximately 80 per cent over the period 2009 to 2012.

These were some of the findings presented by the Education Ministry to the media during a news conference held yesterday at the ministry's head office in St Clair.

There were also favourable results in the report on the National Test in mathematics and language arts with literacy improving by about 50 per cent and mathematics improving by about 40 per cent in Standards One and Three.

Eighteen thousand, five hundred and forty-two pupils in Standard One and 19,948 students in Standard Three wrote the National Test in 2012 and there was an overall increase in the percentage of pupils meeting or exceeding standards (levels three and four) required for Standards One and Three compared to the period 2008 to 2012.

The report stated there was a significant improvement in performance of schools in 2012 compared to the period 2009 to 2012 as measured by their API and no schools fell in the lowest, the academic emergency level.

API placement is an indicator of a school's performance level and is calculated annually using the percentage of pupils at each achievement level for mathematics and language arts at Standards One and Three.

Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh noted the improvements and predicted "we will see marked improvements in the SEA".

"With a good bunch of pupils moving from primary schools with a better input into secondary schools we will get a better output at secondary schools and of course moving on to CAPE, etc," he added.

He reported that the best performances were in the Caroni and Victoria districts while there was some weaknesses in Port of Spain and environs, with 14 out of the 25 underperforming schools from Port of Spain and seven in St George East.

"So we have a lot of work to do in these areas," he said.

Questioned about the reasons for underperforming, Gopeesingh said it included school environment, infrastructure, teachers' training, teachers' application to their work, principal's management of the schools and parenting of pupils.

"So it's a multiplicity of factors which we have been trying to get at on an individual and a collective basis how we would be able to move them forward. And what we were doing, the strategies, obviously have been successful so far," he said.

The Ministry reported that it had implemented strategic interventions aimed at improving literacy and numeracy and academic performance across all primary schools by targeting specific schools under academic watch.

These interventions included: discussions with stakeholders, the movement of the date of the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) examination (from March to May), filling of teacher vacancies, improved infrastructure and individual initiatives by principals and their teachers.

The report also noted that Trinidad and Tobago was one of 45 countries that participated in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2011 and the results "clearly indicate significant gains achieved in literacy and numeracy in primary schools in Trinidad and Tobago".

The Academic Performance Index (API) for primary schools for the periods 2011 and 2012: 2011 2012 API Category No. of schools % No. of schools % Academic Watch 120 22.3 28 5.2 Mostly Effective 394 73.2 384 71.4 Excelling 15 2.8 121 22.5 Total 529 98.3 533 99.1

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