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No percentage scores for PEP

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WHEN the results for the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) are issued next week, the scores will be represented according to a scale and not according to percentages as prevailed with the preceding Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT), a move to closely align the profiles with global standards.

As the Ministry of Education explains it, it is statistically unsound to add scores for different subjects, given that the PEP subjects do not carry an equal amount of total marks and are therefore on different scales.

“As part of best practice, instead of using percentage scores, scaled scores are used for reporting,” manager of the Ministry of Education’s Student Assessment Unit, Terry-Ann Thomas Gayle told a press conference yesterday.

“This is the case in high-stakes exams such as the SATs in the USA, Programme for International Students Assessment, and Cambridge exams. This method is used globally and is used in this instance, as it is in keeping with best practice,” she added.

To arrive at the scaled scores the ministry explained that the raw score for each subject — mathematics, language arts, science, and social studies — will be transformed to a standard score. Each standard score will then be totalled to derive a composite score by which students will be ranked. The student with rank #1 is placed first in his school of choice, followed by the student ranked second, and so on.

“Scaled scores are used to ensure consistency in reporting…and candidates are held to the same passing standard, regardless of which examination form they take, to provide a direct comparison of performance across examination forms and administrations,” Permanent Secretary Dr Grace McLean said yesterday.

The process, she reiterated, is carried out using a computer algorithm.

PEP replaced GSAT as the tool employed by the ministry to assist in placing students in high schools. It is designed to generate a complete profile of students’ ability under the National Standards Curriculum over a three-year period, starting in grade four. Tests contributing to the profile were administered to grade six students on February 26, March 27 and 28, and April 16 and 17. Grade four students were tested on May 30 and 31, and grade 5 is scheduled to be assessed from June 18-21.

The results for grade six are scheduled to be published during the third week of June.

Some educators with whom the Jamaica Observer discussed the development yesterday agree with the move to standardise the test results, arguing that it is the best way to take into account qualitative performance.

“It is impossible to use raw scores to take into account the qualitative features of, let’s say, Performance Task that evaluates your child’s ability to make sense of information and use it. Scaled scores are best to assess student skills and evaluate the learning progress,” said CEO of Spark Education Limited Brittany Singh-Williams.

Further, she said the benefit of using a national scale score is that students will be ranked according to their cohort, versus a standard score of a national sample that does not change.

“Based on my understanding [of the situation]… this is beneficial to students, especially the first cohort of students, who will be scored based on similar readiness levels for PEP. PEP is a national assessment to determine where a child’s abilities fall against the expected standard of achievement across the nation. We cannot avoid comparing student achievement,” she said.

Singh-Williams holds a master’s in global and international education and a bachelor’s in education/teaching of individuals in elementary special education programmes.But not everyone agrees.

Another educator with whom the Observer spoke yesterday, but who asked that his name not be used for this story, argued that scaled scores mask actual achievement.

“Raw scores serve a purpose. To conceal them under the guise of standardisation does not help the student — it helps the system,” he said.

“The approach is putting the cart before the horse, because there are positions along the value chain of positive educational outcomes that still require adjustment and refinement, such as item determination, instrument development, and the system-wide training of trainers,” added the educator who has served as an examiner for Caribbean Examinations Council.

At yesterday’s press conference, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information Karl Samuda said parents will receive a detailed, four-page report outlining their children’s performance. The first two pages the student summary report will feature the students’ scaled scores, an interpretation of the scores, and placement.

The additional two pages a detailed subject report will break down the areas tested in each subject and detail the child’s performance in each.

Dr McLean said, despite “initial misgivings and misunderstanding” and minor logistical challenges, the PEP has so far been greeted with general responsiveness and cooperation.

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Audio-visual tech-fitted buses to secure testimonies from witnesses

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THE Ministry of Justice will be providing two buses, equipped with audio-visual technology, to assist in securing testimonies from witnesses in trial matters.

This was disclosed by portfolio Minister Delroy Chuck who said the vehicles, which will be rolled out soon, will be used to travel to remote areas where witnesses may be located.

These, he said, are among the initiatives underpinning the ministry’s commitment to safeguarding witnesses against intimidation, and advancing their role in the justice process.

The minister’s speech was delivered by executive director of the Legal Aid Council Hugh Faulkner, during the opening of the two-day Witness Care Conference at the Faculty of Law, The University of the West Indies, Mona, St Andrew, last Friday.

Chuck said other initiatives include equipping 78 courtrooms with digital audio facilities and 19 with audio-visual recording apparatus, noting that “with this technology, witness intimidation will be significantly reduced”.

Additionally, the minister said legislation has been passed to allow witnesses in human trafficking cases being tried in the Circuit Court, to testify before presiding judges without a jury.

“Our goal, mission, and purpose at the Ministry of Justice is to create a first-class justice system that delivers timely justice to all, irrespective of their socio-economic circumstances,” Chuck emphasised.

It is against this background that the ministry is a significant partner in the conference, “because we know that a first-class justice system cannot exist without the proper care and protection of witnesses”.

He expressed the hope that the forum would facilitate stakeholder dialogue on a public awareness campaign, to educate the general populace that locating and procuring witnesses is a “shared responsibility”.

“Discussions will range from creating an enabling environment for witness safety and security to psychosocial interventions and services for witnesses. There will also be a focus on vulnerable witnesses, as well as discussions on designing multi-care systems that involve different agencies,” the minister said.

These engagements, Chuck pointed out, are intended to provide a “wealth of information” that should be used as “critical investments” to yield “tangible results” for the care of witnesses.

This, he added, is imperative in spurring civic-minded Jamaicans into action, and sending a message to the criminal underworld that “witnesses will not cower in fear, but will be motivated to stand and be counted, and play their part in creating a society that is secure, cohesive and just”.

Meanwhile, Canada’s High Commissioner to Jamaica Laurie Peters, who also spoke, underscored the relationship between the countries in engagements tailored to advance the local justice sector.

“We (Canada) have been a long-standing and steadfast partner with Jamaica, in terms of putting forth, supporting, partnering on a series of reform-focused…reform-centric programmes, all designed to advance a comprehensive and systematic approach to justice modernisation,” Peters said.

In this regard, she said the Canadian Government is honoured to be a partner in the conference’s staging.

The inaugural event is a key activity under the Justice Undertakings for Social Transformation (JUST) project.

The project is a $19.8-million Global Affairs Canada-funded initiative, being implemented by the Justice Ministry and United Nations Development Programme.

It is supporting justice sector reforms through technical-legal assistance; institutional strengthening; and social order.

Peters said the conference forms part of the JUST programme’s social order component, which seeks to facilitate equitable access to justice services for all individuals, particularly the most vulnerable.

“It is commendable that Jamaica has understood and embraced the importance of focusing on witnesses at this time,” she added.

The conference, which ended on Saturday , was intended to discuss and advance solutions for the protection and support of witnesses in the Jamaican judicial system.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

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Waite gets ringing endorsements in St Elizabeth NE

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BRAES RIVER, St Elizabeth — Thoughts of the People’s National Party’s (PNP’s) internal presidential campaign were never far away.

However, Comrades focused on Basil Waite at yesterday’s formal launch of his bid here to become the next Member of Parliament for St Elizabeth North Eastern whenever general elections are called.

The seat is currently held by the PNP’s Evon Redman, who has long indicated he will not be seeking re-election after completing his single term.

“This is about PNP unity; we not thinking about internal campaign right now,” claimed Councillor Everton Fisher (PNP, Balaclava Division).

There were discordant notes though, that were completely unrelated to the challenge to party President Dr Peter Phillips by former Cabinet Minister Peter Bunting.

A message from Redman, absent due to family commitments, was met with derisive shouts of “No” from the large crowd.

Redman, in his message read by Region Five Chairman Hopeton McCatty, said the “transition” of the constituency leadership had not always been smooth, but he and Waite were “working at it”.

Waite got ringing endorsements, including from his brother, Councillor Mugabe Kilimanjaro (Ipswich Division, St Elizabeth north-estern), who jarringly insisted that his brother had been “sabotaged” for years by elements in the PNP.

By press time the meeting had briefly taken on the look of a stage show as Comrades awaited the arrival of Dr Phillips, who was scheduled to deliver the main presentation.

St Elizabeth North Eastern is traditionally among the rural strongholds of the PNP.

Waite is set to be challenged by businessman Delroy Slowley, representing the JLP, whenever parliamentary elections are called.

— Garfield Myers

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PM tours Corporate Area projects

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PM tours Corporate Area projects

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Prime Minister Andrew Holness (left) hugs Traffic Warden Tonya Morris during yesterday’s tour of the roadwork in Manor Park, St Andrew, while wishing her birthday greetings.

 

Prime Minister Andrew Holness (left) examines one of the new pipelines which will replace the old ones in Manor Park, St Andrew, while touring the ongoing road projects in the Corporate Area yesterday with other stakeholders. Looking on is E G Hunter, managing director of National Works Agency. (Photos: Joseph Wellington)


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