PEP gets passing grade in Hanover

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MARYLAND, Hanover — Tivari Grant, a student of Maryland All-Age School in Hanover, has described as challenging the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) examination which students completed last week. However, Grant is confident that he did well.

“When they ask you a question you have to stop and think about the answer first, then you answer,” stated Grant.

As it relates to preparations for the exam, Grant told the Jamaica Observer that “it was very hard and challenging. You have to study night and day, sir”.

Principal of the school, Andria Dehaney Dinham, said with PEP being introduced for the first time this year, emphasis was placed on preparation using the new curriculum.

“Because it is a new examination and we didn’t know what to expect, so we had to put extra preparation in. The Ministry of Education provided a lot of training and workshops for the teachers on all the subject areas, and at school we basically did our staff development, our training at school with our teachers and parents — so that basically helped us,” Dehaney Dinham explained.

She said she expected her students to do well, based on their preparation.

Dehaney Dinham, who is also the deputy mayor of Lucea, has recommended that the number of days on which the exams are held be reduced.

The examination was done over a five-day period, one in February, two in March, and two in April.

“It would be good if the examination was not done in so many days; [but] if the days are going to be cut, the number of areas that are going to be tested has to cut,” stated Dehaney Dinham, who noted that the allotted time for each exam was sufficient.

“All in all, it is a new examination and with new things there are going to be challenges. So over time I think it will come together,” added Dehaney Dinham.

Principal of Mount Peto Primary Nadine Crosman agreed that the overall number of days allocated for the exam was too much.

Crosman, who is also president of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association Hanover Chapter, said preparations for the exam resulted in extra classes being held, working on practice papers, and training at workshops.

“Now that we have an idea of what to expect, we are better able to go and prepare the other students now for the test. There are probably grey areas in terms of some instructions not clearly written, and then you are getting a message after that, that ‘this is what it should be’,” stated Crosman, as she declared that there is room for improvement in the administering of the PEP.

Green Island Primary School Principal Vaccianna Moseley said preparing for PEP was a challenge for the school.

“Because the system was a little bit different and was new, we had to do a lot of changes to the system, especially in regard to the new part — performance task. The one that we did today (last Wednesday), that is curriculum-based; that one is not so bad because it is sort of content-based and GSAT (Grade Six Achievement Test) was content-based. But, in the performance task and ability test, which was new, we had a problem, because it is hard to teach a child certain skills that we didn’t start out with from grade one and so on,” argued Moseley.

“So when we started getting sample papers from different sources, we realised that it (PEP) was much different from what we anticipated. But luckily, based on the feedback that I got from the students, the exams were manageable and it was something in their ability level,” said Moseley.

He added that the Ministry of Education was of great assistance in the school’s preparation.

According to Moseley, while the spacing of the exam over several days was an advantage in allowing the students enough time to prepare in-between each paper, the exam was a challenge to the overall functioning of the school in terms of classes being held for other students while PEP was being held.

However, Moseley said it appeared the students did not have an issue with the number of days over which the exam was spread.

“I don’t get a feedback that they (PEP students) had a problem with it. The only thing that I observed was that the last set of papers didn’t have that intensity like the early ones, so everybody was all prepared for PEP. Then after they did the first three exams, the last set, I don’t know, that anxious eagerness gradually faded,” Moseley stated.

Added Moseley: “The PEP curriculum is definitely a good thing. Gone are the days when we prepare students… as a matter of fact, the GSAT system was content-based. This one has more [of a] critical thinking component, which will move the child from being basically a content recall thing to a more innovative, creative mind.”

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