By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
STUDENTS who took the Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) examinations failed to do any better this year in Maths, English and Science than test takers for the past five years.
Not only did fewer students sit the 2019 BGCSEs, but also fewer of them scored at least a C grade in these core subjects.
According to newly released results of this year’s national exams, a total of 484 candidates fell into this category. This represented a decrease of 1.22 percent when compared with 2018. That year, 490 students scored at least a C.
The scores have gotten progressively worse and were released much later than is customary. The results are usually made public in late August or early September. It is likely that Hurricane Dorian’s destruction in Abaco and Grand Bahama factored into the late release.
In 2017, 521 students scored at least a C grade and then in 2016 there were 574. The year 2015 had 570 candidates.
Additionally the number of candidates receiving a minimum or five subjects or more with a D grade or higher decreased.
This year 1,213 candidates attained a minimum of D in at least five subjects, representing a 9.34 percent decrease from the results of 2018.
Last year 1,338 candidates were able to score or more D’s or higher and in 2017 there were 1,493.
It was a similar story when it came tor those who scored C or better in at least five subjects, with 760 candidates falling in this category compared with the 806 in 2018.
This means this category saw a 5.71 percent decrease, according to the results.
There were 880 in 2017; 903 in 2016 and 961 candidates in 2015.
Still the Ministry of Education noted these results were better than anticipated.
“It is interesting to note that again this year more than 80 percent of the grades awarded continue to range from A to E, which is better than anticipated. The percentage is comparable to previous years,” the ministry said.
“Although the percentage at A decreased, the cumulative percentage of grades awarded at A to C increased slightly when compared to last year. The highest percentage of grades awarded continues to be at grade C.”
A total of 6,453 candidates from 109 centres were registered to sit the examination.
“The number of candidates represents a decrease of 3.89 when compared with 2018, which has a total of 6714 candidates from 111 centres,” the ministry also said.
Female candidates continued to out perform male test takers.
Bahamas Junior Certificate scores were not better with an 18.36 percent decrease in the number of students who scored at least a C grade in maths, English language and science.
In 2018, 1,552 candidates scored at least a C and 1,326 were in 2017.
Those who achieved a D grade in five or more subjects were also lower.
This year, 2,176 candidates achieved a minimum of D, a 6.17 percent decrease when compared with 2018’s 2,319.
There were 2,269 in 2017, 2,240 in 2016 and 2,179 in 2015.
A positive for the BJC results, the ministry said, was there were percentage increases at A and D along with decreases in F and G grades.
Negatively, there were percentage decreases at B and C along with increases in E and U.
In 2017, Education Minister Jeff Lloyd said something is wrong with the country’s educational system, but it seems officials are failing to spark notable improvements with the national tests.
During the Ministry of Education’s annual Teachers’ Enrichment Day in Grand Bahama that year, Mr Lloyd said officials could not continue to rest on their laurels while the national exam results remain at a D average.
He said: “For the last 10 years or more, the BGCSE results have shown not (any) improvement; we started out with a D, we are still at a D - something is wrong,”
He continued: “There is no way to camouflage it; there is no way to excuse it; something is wrong and we must fix it.”
He went on to stress the only way the issue could be corrected was to go back to the beginning and start with preschoolers.
This has been a focus of the ministry.
Last November, it launched the second phase of its universal pre-school programme with a contract signing for its private pre-school partnership.
A total of 44 private pre-schools have been identified for the plan allowing parents to get vouchers of up to $2,000 per child to enrol in one of the approved institutions.
Nearly a year later in August 2019, contracts were signed with over 80 private pre-school providers.