The overall performance of Bahamian students is improving despite worsening national exam results, Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd said yesterday.
Last week, it was revealed that only 7.5 percent of students who sat the BGCSE examination passed English, mathematics and a science. Only 11.7 percent of students passed at least five subjects. The results for the BJC examinations indicated that only 11 percent of students who sat the exam passed English, math and a science.
Lloyd said that while he found the results disappointing, the metric is not the only or most important one in determining students’ ability, and insisted that increasing graduation rates are indicative of an improvement in overall performance.
“Naturally, any minister or any parent or any teacher or administrator is going to be less than happy with results that indicate a lower performance than previous years, naturally,” he said.
“But I do wish to caution our Bahamian people to recognize that the exam results are just one tool of measurement and assessment that our students undergo. The thing that we are emphasizing in the Ministry of Education, and that I am very proud about, is that the graduation rate is improving significantly and has improved significantly.”
The minister said since 2017, the graduation rate has increased from 47 percent to nearly 60 percent.
“One of the commitments that this country made along with other countries in concert with the Organization with American States as well as the Inter-American Development Bank, we pledged that our graduation rates would improve to 85 percent by 2030,” he said.
“We are at 2019 and we are touching 60 percent, which means that we are well on our way. So, that is an assessment that I am very, very proud of, and it is the assessment that I am spending more of my focus on, not to discount in any way continuing to encourage and enable our students to pass their external exams, BJCs and BGCSEs, not question about it.”
He added, “I’m not saying that these BJC and BGCSE results aren’t important. Don’t misunderstand me because BJC results also are important in qualifying to graduate from high school. BGCSE results are very important for students that qualify to go, for instance, to University of The Bahamas in certain disciplines.”
Lloyd said people are also not taking into account that more and more students are opting to pursue technical and vocational careers.
“This is something, again, [that is] under the radar of consciousness of our Bahamian people, and I do blame us in the ministry for not promoting this,” he said.
“So, yes, I am not entirely happy with the results for this year’s BJC and BGCSE. I give much credit to our teachers, many of whom work overtime, weekends, after school, holidays to assist our students. But I am also very encouraged by the other assessment products that are showing tremendous improvement in the ability and the performance of our students.”
Lloyd said the ministry is working to determine why students continue to struggle with the national examinations.
“I think that there are any number of factors,” he said.
“Obviously, today in the social media environment, there is yet one more distraction and again, I say that there is probably less emphasis in the minds of students who are pursuing technical and vocational subjects.
“There could be any number of factors. We are studying the results, collaborating with our teachers, administrators, parents and students, and we will eventually come out with some scenario which can point to potential causes for it. I can’t say now what those may be.”
He added, “I invite our people to look at the totality of the assessment tools that we have and see that our students are performing well and they are performing well because of their own ability and application, their parents’ commitment and work with them, and most importantly, the work that our teachers are putting into these students.”