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More math specialists for primary schools

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More math specialists for primary schools

Saturday, February 02, 2019

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THE Ministry of Education, Youth and Information will be expanding the number of expert mathematics teachers at the primary level under its ‘Specialist Model’.

Portfolio minister, Senator Ruel Reid said that 39 schools are currently benefiting under the initiative, which was piloted at the start of the 2018/19 academic year in September.

He said plans are in place to expand it to an additional 200 schools at the beginning of the 2019/20 school year, with full implementation across the system scheduled for 2021.

“Schools are provided with resource; and additional training with certification is provided for teachers who qualify as primary mathematics specialists. The model will see these teachers being solely responsible for the delivery of the primary mathematics curriculum,” Senator Reid said.

He was speaking at the launch of The Mico University College’s International Mathematics Summit, at the institution’s premises on Marescaux Road in St Andrew this week.

Senator Reid said that the ministry continues to sustain the deployment of mathematics coaches to critical primary and secondary schools.

He said the coaches will primarily focus on helping mathematics teachers obtain the requisite skills to effectively deliver the subject to students.

“Coaches observe lessons, and provide immediate feedback, facilitate in-school professional development, co-plan and co-teach lessons and conduct demonstration lessons. Coaches also support interventions for critical students to a limited extent,” he pointed out.

The minister said that there are 54 coaches supporting 115 primary-level schools, and 25 coaches supporting 86 secondary institutions.

“The approach has contributed to the steady gains the system has seen in student performance at both the primary and secondary levels of the system,” he noted.

Meanwhile, Senator Reid indicated that the National Mathematics Policy Guidelines, developed and implemented in 2013, are to be reviewed to ensure alignment with changes to the national curriculum, and in keeping with international best practices and standards.

He said the policy document has served to establish standards for teachers at the primary and secondary levels, and at teacher-training institutions.

He noted that since the implementation of the policy, there has been an increase in the number of fully qualified mathematics teachers deployed to the education system — from less than 20 per cent of the secondary teaching cohort in 2011 to 33 per cent at the end of the 2017 school year.

Senator Reid said the ministry has also increased the credit hours for mathematics education courses for all applicable teacher-education degree programmes.

— JIS

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