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Principals cautious about Educate Jamaica package

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Principals cautious about Educate Jamaica package

BY KIMBERLEY HIBBERT
Senior staff reporter
hibbertk@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, November 08, 2020

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EDUCATE Jamaica has offered a package called the New Secondary Deal to schools that have recently faulted its ranking system, but amid the deal, two principals have said if the flaws of the rankings are not fixed, the deal only serves to further compound problems.

The New Secondary Deal asks that Kingston College (KC), Jamaica College (JC), St George’s College (STGC) and Wolmer’s Boys’ School (WBS) operate a three, five and 10-year comprehensive strategic development plan assessing academic development, social and emotional development, spiritual development, special educational needs development, research-informed staff professional development, research-led best practices and transparency on internal teacher progression. All categories should include key performance indicators and timelines.

But Wayne Robinson, principal of JC, rubbished the deal and charged that Educate Jamaica founder and Chairman Ainsworth Darby does not have the wherewithal to manage the veracity of subjects taken by students and if the flaws cannot be addressed, his recommendation is to stop the ranking.

“Most schools have a strategic plan. I don’t know he’s able to monitor that. How is he going to manage my strategic plan and my value added? I am willing to give you all the information— that’s not a big deal, but how is he going to manage what I am saying and the veracity of that? He can manage the veracity of the subjects if he does the right thing. The problem is that he doesn’t have the wherewithal to do it. I’ll say he should stop the ranking if he doesn’t have the wherewithal to himself verify all that has gone on for the last three years in the school,” Robinson said.

The deal also asked that the named schools provide a public annual report detailing the areas of assessment, and give Educate Jamaica and any others the opportunity to triangulate the data. If schools are prepared to honour the terms, Educate Jamaica says it will remove the schools from its ranking with a signed agreement after publication of the third annual report.

Educate Jamaica’s offer comes on the heels of remarks from JC, KC, WBS and STGC Old Boys’ Associations that rapped the organisation for its alleged exclusion of subjects attained prior to grade 11 in its ranking. The comments also follow remarks that assessing schools based on a value added component will serve as a smoke screen for schools to hide its inefficiencies.

Stacey Wilson Reynolds, principal at Immaculate Conception High, said though the deal was not offered to her school, the education ministry does have something in place where schools are inspected and these areas are assessed.

“It is what they call a National Education Inspectorate Report. I think there are flaws to it, but it is a perfect method to assess the schools if it is done properly and can be regulated more often as they do it once every five years,” she said.

In relation to the ranking, Wilson Reynolds said while she was principal at Mount Alvernia High, she would supply CSEC grades students attained prior to grade 11 and Educate Jamaica would include them. Besides, she said there are a number of weaknesses in the methodology that must be addressed, one being the exclusion of the value added component.

“To rank a school I don’t think you can use one set of students to determine that the school is number one or last. You’re just using grade 11 based on the CSEC result. There is also the fact also that some schools would have gotten better clay to work with than some. I don’t think you can use that alone to say this is better or this one is the best one,” Wilson Reynolds said.

She further stated that while CSEC is the standard examination, not all students do CSEC and the rankings exclude other examinations, which further complicates the ranking.

“Some schools focus on CSEC but then you have schools that do HEART exams, City and Guilds and other exams. There are schools that are getting students who can’t read. You can’t put a school, for example, like St James High with Campion College. All students at Campion will sit CSEC, but all at St James High won’t, but it doesn’t mean you have not added value to these children lives, because they may have come in at St James not being able to read, but after five years, they end up being able to read. Value would have been added to that child because you have to know how to set your curriculum to cater to the needs of the students you do get in — the clay you get to mould,” Wilson Reynolds said.

Likewise, Robinson said if Educate Jamaica won’t add other external exams to the ranking then they should cease.

“Any boy who does a subject in City and Guilds it is not considered. Now I can understand English and maths because you’re using CXC. But in the case of JC, we have a set of boys that do auto mechanics. But CXC does not offer auto mechanics. So, when you have 30 or 40 boys who do auto and they pass, are they considered in the cohort of boys who have five subjects? He should stop the rankings if he does not have the ability to add the City and Guilds that are being done by the schools. Is it that he is saying those are not worth going in the cohort of five subjects including maths and English? If that’s the case don’t call JC’s name. Call us at zero,” Robinson said.

He added: “I am not fighting him (Darby). I am just saying the thing needs proper adjustment if it is to be legitimate. It is flawed now and that’s what I want the admission to be. It is flawed and needs to be re-adjusted or leave us out.”

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