Maths students failing to make the grade

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  • More work to be done: education minister Diallo Rabain with Llewellyn Simmons, the Director of Academics, at yesterday’s press briefing (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    More work to be done: education minister Diallo Rabain with Llewellyn Simmons, the Director of Academics, at yesterday’s press briefing (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

  • Education minister Diallo Rabain (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Education minister Diallo Rabain (File photograph by Akil Simmons)


Only a quarter of middle school students are attaining a target set for maths by the Department of Education, a new report has revealed.

The data shows that Middle 3 and Primary 6 students are well behind the average score of their peers in the subject internationally.

Education minister Diallo Rabain said: “Overall, these results indicate the need for targeted efforts to improve mathematics at the primary, middle and senior middle levels.”

Mr Rabain’s comments yesterday came at a press conference held just ahead of the release of the Cambridge Checkpoint results for P6 and M3 students for the 2016-17 school year.

The results of the International General Certificate of Secondary Education examinations sat by senior-level students last year were also released.

Llewellyn Simmons, Director of Academics at the Department of Education, joined Mr Rabain for the press conference.

The P6 and M3 students were assessed in English, maths and science.

Mr Rabain said that an “expected average cohort target” of 3.0, on a scale of 1.0 to 6.0, was set for students in the three areas.

Dr Simmons said 3.0 represented a grade letter of “about a C”. He added: “Our aim has always been to be 3.0 and above.”

Mr Rabain said that while P6 students exceeded the target in English and science, they failed to meet the mark in maths.

He added: “Students’ scores were also notably below the Cambridge International average score.

“These results indicate a need to continue to focus our attention on improving math scores.”

According to the report released yesterday afternoon, 322 P6 students completed the maths checkpoint last April.

Of those students, 58 per cent scored at 2.0 or above.

Only one-third of students — 36 per cent — achieved a 3.0 or higher.

The Bermuda national average score in maths was 2.4. The international average is 3.8.

Students in M3 fared even worse in the subject.

According to the report, of the 279 students assessed, only one quarter — 27 per cent — scored a 3.0 or higher.

Fifty-three per cent of the students achieved a 2.0 or above.

The Bermuda national average score was 2.1 compared with 4.2 internationally.

Students in M3 also fell short in the other areas examined as well.

Mr Rabain said: “We are disappointed that this cohort scored just below the 3.0 target for English and science.

“There is much to do in this area, however, we are confident that with the new Strategic Plan results for English and science will improve.”

Mr Rabain said the Cambridge Checkpoint is administered in 170 countries by private schools who select students to take the test.

He added: “The Bermuda Public School System is the only public school system in the world to use Cambridge to administer these assessments system wide.”

Speaking on the IGCSE results, Mr Rabain said that students must earn a grade between A and G.

He added: “Using this band of grades, 97 per cent passed English, 92 per cent science and 72 per cent mathematics.”

The report released yesterday indicated 78 per cent had passed maths.

A request sent to a Ministry of Education spokeswoman for clarification was not immediately responded to.

But Mr Rabain added: “We also examined IGCSE results for the percentage of students falling in the A to C band.

“The results of this band of grades dropped significantly in all three subject areas.”

According to the report, 445 students took the maths examination. Of those, only 18 per cent achieved a grade of C or better.

Only 12 per cent of the 319 students who took the science exam achieved a grade of C or higher.

Mr Rabain said that a “comprehensive analysis” received from Cambridge on students’ maths performance had been used to develop a “professional learning strategy for teachers”.

He added that the initiative would begin in March.

Mr Rabain said that next month teachers would also participate — along with Department of Education staff and Cambridge representatives — in workshops designed to “address student deficits”.

Three “education officers” would also be hired in maths, science and reading “to provide the supervision and monitoring of the curriculum implementation”.

Mr Rabain said that the data indicated that schools and teachers needed to work “collaboratively, intentionally and persistently” to improve maths results.

He added that students must also make a “concerted effort” to improve in the classroom, and that the Department of Education must provide “resources, professional development and support”.

Mr Rabain said: “The gains and improvement are evident when all four stakeholder groups work together to improve the results.”

For the report and Diallo Rabain’s statement, see the PDFs under “Related Media”

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Published Feb 15, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Feb 15, 2018 at 8:01 am)

Maths students failing to make the grade

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