No breakdown of exam results
By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Deputy Chief Reporter
IN the absence of an official Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) examination letter grade breakdown, Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald’s high praise of an across the board improvement in eight test subjects, including mathematics and English, have raised questions over how well students fared in individual subjects this year.
Asked to reveal the overall averages of core subjects mathematics and English, Mr Fitzgerald said those results remained consistent with 2015’s dismal averages of E and D+ respectively.
Yesterday, Ministry of Education officials released the official BGCSE and Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) 2016 exam test scores, but the data issued broke away from the ministry’s traditional release of individual subject analysis.
Instead, this year, only a general overview and percentages calculated per letter grade were released to the media.
According to the results issued, there were 2,107 As; 2,847 Bs; 7,047 Cs; 5,428 Ds; 3,297 Es; 1,885 Fs and 1,179 Gs given for the BGCSE exams.
Regarding the number of students who sat the tests, there were 6,450 or a 1.13 per cent decrease compared to the 6,524 test takers in 2015. The decrease is attributed to more students taking the exams earlier than the ministry requires, Mr Fitzgerald said.
Overall, the minister said he was “proud” and “pleased” with the marginal improvements seen in this year’s exam grades.
In 2016, there was a marginal increase in performance after a total of 574 candidates received at least a C or better in mathematics, English, and science. This represented a small increase of 0.70 per cent when compared to 2015’s figure of 570.
Mr Fitzgerald said marked improvements in these subjects would not be seen for several years as he defended the government as having “done all it can” to assist students in excelling in the national examinations.
“What I can say is that the averages have not changed that much and I have said before that you will not see a change in averages for a number of years,” the minister said while responding to a question from The Tribune.
“As I said, the challenges are deep rooted. They are challenges that we have been battling with for some time and until we as a country and in particular parents take responsibility for the education of their children and ensuring that they at least come to the afternoon classes we are providing free of charge so that they can have improvement, and we can show from statistics that those students who were responsible enough or parents who were responsible enough to make sure the children came to those classes, the statistics show that they had tremendous success in the BJC results and that is a reflection of what you saw. You will not see improvement to any great extent until we get to that point.
“The teachers are doing all they can and the ministry is doing everything they can. The government is providing resources like no other government has ever provided before to ensure that the students are given every opportunity are improved.”
A further breakdown by the ministry showed 903 students received at least a C in five or more subjects in 2016 compared to 961 students in 2015. This represents a 6.04 per cent decrease.
In 2016, a total of 1,459 students obtained a minimum grade of D in at least five subjects. This represents a decrease of 4.89 per cent from 2015, which had a total of 1,534 students fall into this category.
In comparison, the BJC results appeared to out perform the 2016 BGCSE results, with officials recording the best BJC grades in 20 years. They attributed this improvement to the new criteria put in place through the National High School Diploma.
There were 3,857 As; 6,628 Bs; 8,926 Cs; 7,524 Ds; 5,876 Es; 3,965 Fs and 2,543 Gs - or 64 per cent receiving A to D grades and 36 per cent getting grades of E and below.
This year’s results have seen an increase in the number of BJC candidates.
Candidates totalling 11,703 from a total of 120 centres registered to do the BJC exams for the 11 subjects offered.
The candidates came from 68 independent or private schools and 52 government schools.
This represents a 10.69 per cent increase over 2015. The total number of grades awarded in 2016 is 41,894 compared to 39,657 in 2015, an increase of 5.64 per cent.
Overall, the number of candidates achieving grades A-D compared to last year increased by 1,667.
Mr Fitzgerald said while officials note the improvements, the government still has a long way to go to raise the standard of education in the Bahamas.