The Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) is an exam that many elementary schools used to measure their performance against other schools throughout the Turks and Caicos. Personally, I have always had mixed feelings about the GSAT, having gone through it with my daughter in 2010. However, replacing it with CPEA is not the answer at this time as we have too many other issues to address in our schools.
Before I proceed any further, let me congratulate all parents, teachers and the students who were successful in the GSAT. A special mention to Providence International Academy (my children’s school) that captured 2 top 10 spots in the country. A special recognition also to Community Christian Academy (my church school). Last but not least, I have to recognize a very special school to me, Oseta Jolly that continues to soar despite the setbacks.
This article is to address some issues that affected the results of the GSAT in the public schools specifically on the island of Providenciales.
On Providenciales, the average student teacher ratio is 28 students to 1 teacher in the public school, while in the private school, the average student teacher ratio is 12 to 1. A lower student teacher ratio will no doubt have a positive significant impact on students which is reflected in GSAT results.
English as Second Language
English is not the first language for most of the students in the Provo Public Schools and so many of them have a challenge comprehending the work. Despite the fact that some of them cannot read and write properly, they are promoted from one grade to the next. Apparently this promotion is done to accommodate space for new students. Let me pause right here and say that there are many success stories of students who could not speak English but were very successful in previous and current GSAT results.
The role of parents
The role of parents in the life of children have a significant impact on their education. Some parents depend solely on the teachers to train their children. Some parents have multiple jobs and they are not even at home and so some of these students ae left on their own and hence their education is impacted. Some teachers see the jitney drivers more than the parents.
Government needs to lower the student teacher ratio and when the school reaches its desired ratio, discontinue accepting new applicants. Perhaps this is why the previous administration and the current administration proceeded with a fourth primary school on Provo. I don’t know if that is the reason but we will wait and see.
Outsource to a private institution or individuals to train students that cannot speak English. Once they are proficient in English Language, then transition them into the Public school. No one should be allowed to enter the Public School until they mastered the English Language. Otherwise, we are setting up these children for failure.
Train our teachers to teach English Language as a second language or foreign language to students that speak Creole and Spanish.
Encourage the promotion of the expansion of private schools. After all, the majority of locals are frustrated with the public schools and are sending their children to the private schools. You can easily count the locals at the Public schools on the island of Provo.
Make parents pay a fee for their children to attend the Public Schools. It seems if parents pay for something, they will pay more attention to their children.
Like a parent knows most things about his or her child, the teacher knows most things about the student. They know the issues and are not surprise with the results. The ministry needs not only to have constant dialogue with the staff but they should also listen and implement the recommendations from the staff. Somehow, Oseta Jolly seems to have the formula right based on their consistent performances. Unlike the other two public primary schools on Providenciales, the parents of Oseta Jolly are very much involve in the education of their children.