**By Derrick Nicholas**

*In our last edition, we offered words of hearty congratulations to all the students who did well at the Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate (CSEC). ** *

*For this edition, we would like to put the spotlight on the results of the 2023 Caribbean Secondary Examinations Certificate, with special emphasis on the Mathematics results**.*

Antigua and Barbuda as well as the rest of the Caribbean continue to grapple with the issue of students’ failure to understand and master Mathematics.

Data show that students taking the CSEC Mathematics exam lack either understanding or competency.

The problem was further compounded when students suffered from the loss of valuable contact time during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Official data [from CXC] indicate that the national pass rate for Antigua and Barbuda hovers between 28.79 and 32.25 per cent.

These percentages fall far below what is acceptable, and if nothing is done to address the problem it may get worse. Public schools continue to perform worse than private schools.

This year the pass rate among public schools was 27.73 percent.

Could this be because private school teachers are accountable to their school’s administration or Board of Directors?

Results over the past five (5) years paint a worrying picture. Males continue to be outperformed by their female counterparts.

This has the potential of creating an unhealthy gap between the two genders. Our nation cannot afford to have a situation where any child is left behind.

This is a very worrying trend as it has national implications for growth and development.

The following from Loop News sums up the problem facing Antigua and Barbuda:

**“***It was no surprise that many students in Antigua and Barbuda failed at Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) Mathematics. Every year the performance of students in that subject area is described as ‘poor’ and this year was no different. ** *

*Antigua and Barbuda fell about 10 per cent below the regional pass rate. The Ministry of Education revealed that although the entire region did poorly (36.9 per cent passes), the twin island still has quite a bit of work to do with only 26.3 per cent in passes*.”

https://caribbean.loopnews.com/content/antigua-poor-math-performance-blamed-teachers

What is disappointing is that there does not seem to be any outcry from parents, students, Ministry of Education and the wider public.

It is even more frightening to know that students in 4^{th} Form still struggle with things such as: times tables, or basic things like addition or subtraction.

It is no wonder that many young people are not functionally literate in Mathematics.

The problem seems to be at the lower end of the spectrum.

Students in the upper forms find it difficult to grasp basic concepts, or to apply critical thinking. Below are the 2023 results of **public** schools in Antigua and Barbuda.

**School No. of Passes No. of Students**

All Saints Secondary 8 106

Antigua Grammar 51 68

Antigua Girls High 80 106

Clare Hall Secondary 5 91

Glanvilles Secondary 4 11

Irene B. Williams 7 33

Jennings Secondary 3 63

Ottos Comprehensive 12 80

Pares Secondary 2 20

Princess Margaret 12 111

Sir McChesney George 0 18

Sir Novelle Richards 32 72

St. Mary’s Secondary 0 18

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The #Arts is science, and #Science is the arts. Once, this is addressed from birth, since, education begins at birth, then students whether in Public or Private schools will not grasp such concepts as…

A…a Capital A is two isosceles triangle

B…a Capital B is two parabolas side by side

C…O is a circle

D…T has right Triangles.

All letters have shapes.

Mathematics addresses shapes!

Etc. etcetera, etc.

Language is sound! Sound is a function of mathematical principles.

Music is classified as the Arts, yet, science plays a major role in its presentation(s).

Believe it or not, WARRI must be taught in the schools. WARRI is CODING, it’s mathematics, it’s computation.

Jumbee_Picknee aka Ras Smood

De ‘ole Dutty Peg🦶🏿Garrat_Bastard

Vere C. Edwards

I heard Mr. Smith on Voice of the People declaring that the problems in Math is not the primary schools because the percentage pass rate at the common entrance is 75%.

I strongly disagree with his conclusion. Students are taught to pass the common entrance exam at the expense of the basic,fundamental mathematical concepts. Students rarely are competent in their tables and familiar with such terms as factors, multiples,HCF,LCM etc when they come to first form. This does not support his alleged 75%.

I will not blame the primary school teachers. We have deviated from what made us successful, reading, writing and arithmetic, by inundating our young minds with all kinds of information they cannot assimilate.

Our Secondary schools are overrun with students who cannot read,spell,comprehend basic information. Is the public aware that you can have someone READ for you on a CXC exam? What the hell are we putting out of our public Secondary schools, when students cannot read.

Mathematics require persistent practice to achieve basic competency and when fundamentals are lacking, the problem is compounded many times over.

AGHS and AGS do well annually because they get the top students and a high percentage will seek additional assistance once they reach fourth form. This exposes them to the persistent practice I spoke earlier of.

It is the system that is failing our students.

Let me add another thought. CXC is a business and must appease its shareholders.

The paper 2 this year was hacked and CXC hurriedly discarded it. How much input did our ministry of Education have in that choice?

It is my thinking that since society has made Math and English compulsory, numerous people are stunted in moving forward without either. Therefore it is to CXC ‘s advantage financially, to have high failures in either subject, neccissating retakes and thus sending dollars into CXC’s coffers.

Think about it.

The main thrust of the problem starts in the common entrance exams. The nation might be interested to know that these students are writing entrance exams and do not know their times tables. Some are still counting on their fingers. God help them when they run out of fingers!

How do we solve this problems? This is my 2-cents worth:

1. Do not start to teach all the high-faluting subjects and principles until you are satisfied that the children know their tables – inside out.

2. Don’t get me started with the English. I’m sorry. Though I know this is a generalized statement, I say that the children cannot read. Focus on reading before the fancy topics. Incidentally, too many of them DO NOT KNOW THEIR ABCs.

3. The children cannot write properly. It is even worse now that they are using cell phones. The exam is not a cell phone exam, so they have to learn to write.

4. Stop boasting about how good the kids are on the tablet and iPhone and teach them to write.

5. Do not send them to secondary school to learn all those fancy subjects if they are not ready. Keep them back and insist they work hard to pass on.

6. GET RID OF THE SBA’s in the primary school. The only thing good about the practice is that the parents love to talk about their babies doing their SBAs.

7. Get the children interested in using libraries. A cell phone does not replace them, at least not now.

8. TAKE THE CELL PHONES OUT OF THE CHILDREN’S HANDS. It is retarding their progress in the basics.

9.You lazy teachers, stop using Google classroom, etc to give out assignments. In your laziness, you are just cutting and pasting things. When you do take up the assignments, you do not mark them or you take a long while to return them.

Please remember that I said these are generalized statements. There are good teachers out there, and there are students who are serious about learning. But they are still young and we have to guide them the right way to see progress.

PLEASE BEAR IN MIND, OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM IS IN DEEP TROUBLE.

@Our Education System is in Trouble…

#WARRI…owari…mandala!

The purported first world countries are now manufacturing WARRI boards, as toys to be gifted to kids. They call it, MANCALA.

It’s one of HUEmanity’s oldest computers!

You can even find it, in some upscale bars in North America just like chess boards.

As, the older generations would say, “life lakkah wan game a Warri. If U cyant play um, U get #no_seed!”

Translation…

“Life’s like a game of Warri, if you cannot play it, you’ll definitely get #NO_SEED!”

Jumbee_Picknee

1)Math is a problem everywhere in the world. It is not simply the teacher’s fault or the school’s fault or the fault of technology. Perhaps we should just accept that some people are not good at advanced Math concepts, but they can still make valuable contributions to society in fields that don’t require much Math. Does Math really have to be a prerequisite for everything? Just develop a useful tertiary system where some programmes require Math to get in whilst others do not.

2) Some people may be slower at grasping advanced concepts and need more practice than the school system can allow. Perhaps more should be done to make extra Math practice sessions readily available in society via in-person sessions, online sessions, practice apps and games, fun worksheets, workbooks etc. That might increase the percentage passes a bit.

3) Instead of blaming teachers, schools etc., why not ask them what they think the students need to do. Maybe carry out a survey before jumping to conclusions.

I am disappointedly surprised by this data and the action that needs to be taken to increase student achievement. There needs to be a deeper dive into schools’ data to understand the problem of practice, so, that actions can be taken to solve this problem.

As a graduate of this school system, I am always proud to sing praises of the education system that gave many of us a foundation that allowed us to attend colleges and make contributions in other countries far from our homeland. Before I can point fingers as to where the fault is in the system, there needs to be more exploration of data. Not just numbers of passes but also a deep dive into what students are writing on these exams. I would like to know if there is an item analysis for the math exam for each school.

As educators, it pains us to see these poor results, knowing that all these bright young minds need are encouragement, guidance and a solid learning plan.

Our After School Programs for Maths include primary, secondary and CXC Prep. 781-6572 | 773-8161 for more info.

Here are a few things to ponder…

A…Education is economics.

B…Teaching is not Education.

C…Education is not teaching.

D…Teaching is the framework, the skeleton upon which education is built.

E…Teachers are guides, who’re responsible to guide, take you along a part to a particular destination.

F…One learns through the process, of #Self_Teaching.

G…Any, and everything can teach you!

Education for the most part is set up similar to an Order, which indoctrinates you, certifies you, quality you to become a member, of said order.

The bumbling bureaucrats, who use data to analyze any system can use and tweak, said data to manipulate, said system to meet a specific need just as an investment banker on the stock exchange or a politician who uses data to destroy an opponent.

Jumbee_Picknee aka Ras Smood

De ‘ole Dutty Peg🦶🏿Garrat_Bastard

Vere C. Edwards

ONE THOUGHT OR TWO

The headline can be: Crisis in our Public Schools: CXC Mathematics 2023 results are ‘Poor’.

There is no national outcry! Why is this so?

Parents, students and teachers say ‘Math is hard, I don’t like Math’.

That is a psychological barrier that blocks the learning process, the effective teaching of Math at the start of our education process.

Maybe, most people think if we ignore the CXC Math problem, don’t give it priority in our education system, it will solve itself and go away!

Math knowledge increases our solving-problem and critical-thinking skills.

Everything in life – food, shelter, clothing, shopping, careers, space, the universe – is related to the fundamental, basic principles of STEM, the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, + Arts.

Therefore, with our ‘CXC Math problem’, we must solve the problem!

Focusing on the article and comments, i’ll lay out my perspective:

Most (maybe all) of our CXC students can be taught, learn and pass the standard Math Exam.

Maybe, some of the CXC Math teachers are knowgeable of Math but not good, effective teachers of Math. They may be knowledgeable, good, effective teachers of other subjects.

Now, two schools – AGS and AGHS – had acceptable, successful results, not the others. Why?

A commenter offered his/her reason and solutions.

Noteworthy, the six (6) commenters were quickly ‘out of the blocks’ with approach and solutions – Pre-K to Tertiary. They are clearly passionate about solving our Math problem!

This is absolutely the necessary first step: ‘Diagnose’ the Math problem in order to solve the problem.

‘A diagnostic assessment’, a ‘deep dive’ must be done to IDENTIFY and UNDERSTAND the problem: Why our students make the mistakes they do and what material they understand (think they understand but may be a misconception), and what they don’t understand.

To do this, we must diligently research and analyze without bias each student’s available 2023 and at least five (5) prior years data, their tests and exam results, report cards including absences and health records. Poll / survey the students where possible. This should be done for successful and unsuccessful students to determine patterns and trends in each school and across the Public Schools’ spectrum.

We must also do a thorough, unbiased assessment of the effectiveness of our CXC Math teachers connected with the students.

From this ‘diagnostic’/’deep dive’ (no shortcuts) assessment, an implementable solution(s) for our Math problem will come.

Daresay, the solution(s) will require radical changes, transformation, in our Math Curriculum and resource allocations. This will inevitably force the change, transformation in our entire education system to a priority of STEM + Arts – Pre-K to Tertiary.

If we fail at this, we run the known, critical risk of establishing a two-tier Public School system and society of the bright and successful with affordable support and the not bright, unsuccessful without affordable support, a ‘permanent underclass’.

“All knowledge in the World belongs to everybody in the World”.

Let us interact with humility, grace, honesty, good intentions!…..Be nice to each other!

Save our Humanity, Save our Youths, Save our Environment, Save our Soil!!!

Be safe and well!

Respect

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