Exam results graded a D


Jerome Fitzgerald

DESPITE the government’s stated focus on improving public education, the average results of the 2013 BJC and BGCSE examinations continue to hover around D.

In revealing the results yesterday – which included E averages in mathematics – officials, for a fourth year in a row, refused to release an official national average. However, a Ministry of Education employee claimed is was approximately D+.

Officials did not release the averages for individual schools, but in past years, private schools have generally performed better than their public counterparts – meaning that more than a year after the PLP promised to double the investment in education, the public school average may be even lower than D.

The results of the 2013 BJC and BGCSE national examinations, showed a decline in mean mathematics scores to an E+ and E, respectively, and mean grades for every subject not rising above C+.

Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald, yesterday said there is “a lot of room for improvement” and the government is “committed” to making those improvements.

A total of 31,886 students sat for the BJC examination, he said, a decline of 3.43 per cent compared to last year’s 33,018.

Three subjects showed an improved mean letter grade when compared to last year: Craft Study rose from C- to C; English rose from D+ to C-; and General Science rose from D- to D. Health Science dropped from D+ to D; Religious Studies from D to D-; and Mathematics from D- to E+.

Some mean letter grades remained the same: Technical Drawing, C+; Family and Consumer Science, C+; Social Studies, C-; and Art, C. The latter two, however, showed an improved mean GPA by .02 or less points.

Mr Fitzgerald noted there was an improvement in the number of grades award between A to C level - increasing from 47.91 per cent in 2013 to 49.58 per cent, this year. The highest since 2007. However the number of U grades has increased by .63 per cent when compared to last year.

A total of 7,140 students sat for the BGCSE examination, Mr Fitzgerald said, an increase of .32 per cent compared to last year’s 7,117.

Of 27 subjects tested, only 4 showed an improvement in mean letter grade: Religious Studies rose from a C- to C; Music rose from a C to C+; History rose from a C- to C; and Commerce rose from a D+ to D.

However, the minister noted, seven subjects showed .02 per cent, or less, improvement in mean GPA - although staying at the same letter grade: Typewriting/Keyboarding, D+; Spanish, C; Office Procedure, C-; Food and Nutrition, C-; Economics, D+; Chemistry, C-; and Biology, D-.

Subjects who showed a decrease mean letter grade when compared to last year include: Art and Design (A, B, and C), Auto mechanics, Book-keeping and Accounts, Carpentry and Joinery, Clothing Construction, Combined Science, Electrical Installation, French, Graphical Communication, and Mathematics.

Those letter grades include Mathematics falling from E+ to E; French falling from C to C-; and Book-keeping and Accounts falling from D to E+.

English Language, Geography, Literature, and Physics kept the same mean letter grade as last year but declined in GPA, with the latter three showing a decline of .02 per cent, or less. The letter grades are D, C, C-, and C-, respectively.

Mr Fitzgerald said the cumulative percentage of grades awarded between A to C is “slightly higher” than in 2012, increasing from 47.76 per cent to 48.57 per cent. The highest since 2007. However “of concern,” he said, the number of grades award at G and U.

Mr Fitzgerald said he is not concerned with a national average. Rather, he said, he is concerned about the number of students who are leaving school without competent literacy or numeracy skills.

“Personally, I’m not overall concerned about the national average. My major concern is that we have students leaving grade 12, leaving school, who are not functionally literate or numerate - that is a major, major concern for me. It’s a major concern for the ministry,” he said.

“Our concern is that 30 per cent that continue to fall through the cracks and not do well - that’s at the BJC level. By the time they get to the BGCSE level, we have, what we know, is almost 50 per cent of students who leave only with a leaving certificate - which means they don’t meet the requirement to graduate.”

Assistant Director of Education Serethea Clarke said a calculation of the national average has been discontinued for the past four years because not all of the candidates sit in the same examinations.

She explained: “We focus on subject analysis as opposed to the overall national grade point average.”

Mr Fitzgerald added: “In spite of that and getting hung up on a national average, the point is that we at the ministry are not satisfied with the outcome of students, particularly when it comes to mathematics, and there is a lot of room for improvement.

“We are not satisfied. There is a lot of work that needs to be done and we are moving about now to do the work that is necessary to equip our students so that when they leave high school, they have the basic education and they have the tools necessary for them to go out and make a positive contribution to our country.”

Mathematics grades are “unacceptable”, Mr Fitzgerald continued, attributing that to the country’s focus on literacy.

“We are concerned about the results in mathematics examinations. Our focus, I feel, to a large extent, has been on literacy,” he said, explaining the country has seen “steady increases” in English language results.

“The Department of Education, we must accept some responsibility for the deficiencies in our mathematics results and our ministry’s failure to implement required strategies to improve not only teaching, but our results in this area,” he said.

“It’s no secret” the education sector has challenges in finding “skilled” mathematics teachers – both locally and abroad, the minister said, naming future in-house training as one solution to this problem.

“The issue we have with math teachers is really a worldwide issue, it’s not just in the Bahamas. There’s great competition for math teachers and so we get as many as we can,” he said.

Also lined up to help raise grades across the country, Mr Fitzgerald said, is the introduction of a standardised national diploma which will identify students who are not meeting standards by grade 10. He said he already has a draft on his desk and will present the initiative to Cabinet.

“What we have found in the past is that when we receive these results, we really have not put in the strategies to deal with these students who, essentially, are falling through the cracks or not performing well – and they continue to move from year to year without the necessary required intervention that is needed.”


ohdrap4 10 years, 3 months ago

I doubt very much that the decline in the Math average is due to the "focus on literacy". If one betters his literacy skills, he is better able to comprehend Math problems.

A real problem is the continued practice of allowing teachers to teach mathematics out of field. It would not be so bad if teachers took exams to show they know the mathematics they are about to teach, but, as it is, any breathing teacher is allowed to teach math.

The private school students will get better grades because they are coached from past exams. For at least the past ten years the MOE just keeps repeating the Math questions.

In addition, there has been no upgrading of the math curriculum since it was adopted back in 1992.

I believe that, in numbers, the U and G grades in Math specifically are the majority of students, and likely not included in that average.


bewildered 10 years, 3 months ago

What's the teacher:student ration in this country? Are there any govt funded classes for students that need extra " stay after class" help? What % of teachers are interested in helping their students instead of just collecting a paycheck? If a student fails a grade, should he/she be promoted to the next grade , or enrolled in extra classes? Are parent / teacher / student meetings being held between teacher and parents of students that have behavior issues or are struggling? Is there ANY discipline left in schools? How strict is the law on truancy? Are parents encouraging their children to do their best, or do some of them not even care? This is just one of the questions that run through my mind. This is just so sad. Especially when over 40% of a high school finished school with a cert of completion and no diploma! Investigations NEED to be made.


TaylorV 10 years, 2 months ago

almost every govt secondary school teacher offers extra classes at NO charge to the students in preparation for exams. the problem is parents are not on board and teachers CANNOT force students to stay after school. to assist with this govt school teachers give up their lunch time to assist students but once again, teachers CANNOT force students to give up their lunch period even though students are encouraged to bring their lunch along. the real problem is teachers has NO assistance from the govt!!! it is sad to say but the govt is NOT serious about education!! and i agree with everything you said


SP 10 years, 3 months ago

Obviously this government cannot expect to fix 40 years of failure in the educational system in 2 years.

What are they doing differently than previous administrations? Have the standard of the teachers themselves been upgraded and why isn't it mandatory for these failing students to attend evening class's to allow them to be brought up to required levels? Private schools insist slower students attend afternoon class's.

Funding is most likely the major reason these students do not get the additional attention needed.

One way of trimming educational cost is to get the illegals out of the school system which will free up much needed space, reduce class sizes and allow teachers to focus on BAHAMIAN children.

Secondly, government really need to repatriate more illegals which will greatly reduce the cost of social services and medical cost across the board.

These savings could then be redirected and used to pay teachers for afternoon class's for BAHAMIAN students.

We are inundated with illegals. The cost and ramifications of illegals in our country is mind boggling.

Until this is done, there is no way our small population tax base can afford to make the necessary investment in education to resolve this issue.

We simply cannot sustain the rapidly increasing added load into our system, and can no longer ignore the glaring fact that illegals are quickly dragging us down to their level


concernedcitizen 10 years, 3 months ago

we produced 50,000 children in the last 10 yrs ,,us not illegals and a great many are single mothers that have to take the daddys to court for support ..we spend over 300 million a year on education ,over 1/3 of our budget ...when my girlfriend taught at CR walker and started to tell a parent about a bad child a senior teacher warned her be careful or the parents would "attack " her ..sp do you ever look at us as the problem ,,we are the politicians ,the police ,the baby makers ,,none of them came from mars they came from us ,,truth be told my girlfriend told me the hatain parents are more involved and the hatain kids do better ,,we need to quit thinking we are Gods special people ,we are not the israelites no matter what crap the politicians fill our heads with ,,we are failing ,,moral wise ,crime wise ,ethics wise ,,,education wise ,,the proof is in the pudding ,,we made our own exams and can,t even pass them ...our great blessing was Castro and thats going to end b/c Cuba will open ,,


bahanite 10 years, 3 months ago

What is the grading system in the Bahamas, and dose it apply from elementrys school to high schools? We as parents need to start doing our homework and stop blaming others. Not much people like to hear the truth, but the truth of the matter is that parents need to stop hanging in the web shop, stop hanging in the bars, stop hanging on the blocks and stop hanging with the sweetheart and go help your child or children with their home work. Go through their books and see which area they are weak so you can help to strengthening them in those subjects. There is a saying, you can carry the horse to the well but you cannot make him drink. The teacher can teach all that they know if the children don't know how to learn they will not get it. We need to teach them at home how to learn so that wend they go to school they will be good learners. Stop throwing stones and hiding your hands.


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