Education Minister: 95% Of Students Graduated

November 29, 2012

[Updated] Minister of Education Dame Jennifer Smith released the school exam results this afternoon [Nov 29], saying that 95% of senior school students graduated.

Minister Smith said: “The Board of Education has set a graduation target requiring students to have a minimum grade-point-average of 2.0 [the equivalent of a 70% average across their subjects and a minimum of 104 credits – 62 credits in required subjects and 42 credits in elective subjects].

“Ninety-five percent of our senior school students graduated. This means that 217 out of 229 senior school students achieved a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 70%.

“In the 2011/2012 school year, a total of 1,212 external examinations were taken by five hundred and six (506) public senior school students in the subjects of English, Mathematics, Science, Foreign languages, Business Studies, Information & Communication Technology, Physical Education, Family Studies and The Arts (including Art & Design, Drama, Dance and Music).

“It is of particular note that the number of students sitting external examinations in 2012 doubled over the previous year as a result of all S2 students sitting the Cambridge International Examinations in English, Mathematics and Science. Two years earlier than they have in the past. An overall pass rate of 89% was achieved, with 28% attaining a grade of C or higher.

“In addition to the Cambridge examinations, senior students also had the opportunity to sit external examinations from Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA); and Edexcel.

“Primary and Middle School Students participated in the Cambridge Primary and the Cambridge Secondary 1 Checkpoint examinations. Both examinations are diagnostic and provide feedback on individual strengths and weaknesses in the curriculum areas of English, Mathematics and Science.

“The Cambridge curriculum has provided useful information about strengths and weaknesses, and where improvement is needed.

“Eighty-nine percent (89%) of Primary 6 students achieved grades between satisfactory and excellent in English; 70% achieved grades between satisfactory and excellent in mathematics; and 85% achieved grades between satisfactory and excellent in Science. [The Board of Education has set a goal for 75% of students to perform at level 3 or above by 2015].

“You should note that primary students are performing just one level below the worldwide Cambridge International average in both English and Science.

“At the Middle Three level (M3) 74% of our students achieved grades between satisfactory and excellent in Cambridge Secondary 1 Checkpoint Examinations, in the subject of English; 60% achieved grades between satisfactory and excellent in Mathematics; and 74% achieved grades between satisfactory and excellent in Science. We note that we have work to do to raise the number of students achieving at grade 3 and above.

“The Bermudian 2012 results are closely aligned with the international scores in Science and English at the primary level. Of 8,850 international candidates 74% obtained grades between 3.0 and 6.0 in English – 67% of Bermudian candidates obtained the same grades. Just 7% points off.

“Of the 8,862 international Science candidates, 60% obtained grades between 3.0 and 6.0 – Bermudian candidates scored the exact same percentage.

“In Mathematics, 72% of the 9,006 international candidates obtained grades between 3.0 and 6.0 compared with 47% of Bermudian candidates. This is obviously an area needing improvement. It is also important to note that we also have accelerated students.

“I am pleased to report that seventeen (17) Sandys Secondary Middle School students passed the IGCSE English examination and thirteen (13) passed the Mathematics examination. Now, I would like to share the results of Senior School Students who sat the external IGCSE and GCSE examinations.

“In English, there was a ninety-one percent (91%) pass rate with thirty-eight percent (38%) at grade C or better. Three hundred and twenty-five (325) students took the examination.

“In Mathematics there was a seventy-four percent (74%) pass rate with eight percent (8%) at grade C or better. Two hundred and ninety-nine (299) students took the examination.

Minister Smith continued: “In Science there was a ninety-five percent (95%) pass rate with twenty-five percent (25%) at grade C or better. Two hundred and seventy-eight (278) students took the science examinations (which included Coordinated Science, Combined Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Environmental Management).

“In Foreign Languages there was a one hundred percent (100%) pass rate with sixty-eight percent (68%) at grade C or better. Fifty-three (53) students took examinations in French and Spanish.

“The Arts recorded a ninety-eight percent (98%) pass rate with forty-one percent (41%) at grade C or better. Ninety (90) students took examinations in Art, Art and Design, Dance, Drama and Music.

“Business and Technology recorded a ninety-two percent (92%) pass rate with eight percent (8%) at grade C or better. Sixty-three (63) students took examinations in Business Studies, Media Studies and Information & Communication Technology.

“In Physical Education there was a one hundred percent (100%) pass rate with sixty-eight percent (68%) at grade C or better. Thirty-one (31) students took the examination.

“Family Studies also recorded a one hundred percent (100%) pass rate with just three (3) students taking the examination in Food and Nutrition. The next figures are a summary of the subjects taken at the Advanced Subsidiary (AS) level.

“In AS English there was an eighty-nine percent (89%) pass rate with thirty-four percent (34%) at grade C or better. Fifty-six (56) students took the AS Examination.

“The introduction of the Cambridge Curriculum for core subjects in 2010 was in response to Recommendation 9 of the Hopkins Report.

“According to Cambridge International Examinations, a predictor of seventy-five percent (75%) of students worldwide will achieve ratings between satisfactory and excellent. Bermuda’s P6 students exceeded the worldwide predictor by 13% and 4.8% in English and Science respectively.

“In Mathematics, they performed 10.4% points below the worldwide predictor compared to their counterparts in 160 other jurisdictions.

“Before I conclude, I must note that Cambridge does not normally refer to ‘passes’ and ‘fails’ in the context of the IGCSE. The grades they issue are intended to recognise what candidates know and can do.

“Different grades recognise the different qualities of performance. The only outcome Cambridge regards as a failure is a U (meaning ungraded). An ungraded outcome occurs when the candidate’s level of performance falls below what can be reliably recognised in that examination.”

Update 9.02pm: Shadow Education Minister Dr. Grant Gibbons said: “I’m pleased to hear that the number of students sitting external examinations doubled over the previous year and would like to commend our teachers at Berkeley and CedarBridge who worked with all our students to get them prepared.

“We also congratulate those students who did well, especially those scoring in the A to C grades. Unfortunately, the overall results reported by the Minister were well below our expectations, particularly in mathematics where only 8% scored at grade C or better.

“Overall in 2011, 54% of all students sitting the exams received a grade of C or higher. This year, just 28% did. We understand that more students took the exams this year, but the overall result shows we are moving in the wrong direction.

“The Minister says that Government is making progress on education reform. The external exam results say otherwise.”

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  1. Dr Gibbons: Education Information Is Inadequate | | December 3, 2012
  1. Opressed says:

    95% graduated, but only 10% can read or write.
    Please stop these outright lies.
    It’s a severe disservice to give someone a diploma who can’t even read the damn thing.

    • Hey says:

      with 28% attaining a grade of C or higher. 28% making the grade, come on please. This is appauling, shoudl be minimum 60% of people if not higher.

      Shows the failure of the PLP in delivering education for our kids. Sack the lot of them NOW. VOTE THESE FAILURES OUT

      I’d like to know the numbers of exams each student took too.

    • Family Man says:

      The plp only cares if you can write an X in a little box once every five years. And don’t worry, they’ll count to five for you.

    • Offended PUBLIC SCHOOL Student says:

      @Opressed and other Ignorant Commenters,

      As a student of THE BERKELEY INSTITUTE,

      I am highly offended at the accusation that only 10% of my colleagues can read or write. Whether you were exaggerating or not, I can assure you that the majority of our students do very well. The REAL disservice is that someone hates the government so much, that they are willing to mock, defame, and discriminate against public school CHILDREN in an effort to make others look bad. I may not agree with the way our education system is operating, but that does not mean I will slander Bermuda’s future just for political points.

      It’s a real shame to see that many adults are setting bad examples for young people in the way they act on these forums.

      Ps: Do take note that in the GCSE system, the highest grade possible is a ‘C’ depending on GCSE/IGCE Extended or regular subjects. In the GCSE system, only a ‘U’ is considered a fail, as it means “ungraded”, or too many answers are incorrect to complete the grading process.

      I AM a public school student and I CAN read and write, as you can see; so how about YOU STOP “these outright lies”

      • Blurt says:

        So the PLP are lying when they say 28% got C or above……. You’re telling me 28% had a C

      • Clive Spate says:

        Firstly, I applaud you for your articulate response to the negative posts. If the election candidates were as genuinely passionate about the people as you are about your fellow students then we’d be far better off.

        I do believe, however, that the comments aren’t being directed at your peer group but the system that has produced these poor results.

        It is possible to surpass a C grade at GCE/IGCSE. In the UK schools are judged on their A*-C performance and these results would be appalling, especially when you consider that on average students only took two externally examined subjects each.

        • Micro says:

          If I remember correctly, C is indeed the highest grade one can achieve here in Math/English etc. I vaguely remember when they first introduced the GCSE English course at Berkeley there was fuss about the grading system.

          However, in my first and second year (’05-’07) at Berkeley, many of us sat GCSE science which the highest grade was A*; tho that grade was a separate grade from the actual science class in the Bermuda curriculum; i.e. your GCSE exam scores did not contribute to your overall grade.

      • Opressed says:

        I am glad for you Public School but, once you get out here in the real world, you will know the truth about our “education system” it will open your eyes.

      • Observer says:

        I beg to differ…the highest attainable grade in the GCSE/IGCSE is A*.

        • Concerned says:

          I attended Cedarbridge Academy’s Prizegiving/Awards Ceremony and I want to tell you, that I am very proud that my grandson is a student there and I am hoping that Mrs. Richards will print the information that was in the Program’s given out last night – definitely STUDENTS OF EXCELLENCE.
          Congratulations to those that proved that they can be and are Students of Excellence and for those students who prefer to follow the gang, you will definitely feel your lack of learning after you graduate and for those children who aren’t able to learn like the middle to top students, I pray that MOE will look into a Curriculum to encourage you to become students of excellence and I don’t mean classes which will be based on repeat everything all day every day. Congratulations also to those teachers who daily take great interest and encourage their students to reach goals set for them and those students who have set their own goals and seeing last night, quite a few have gone beyond. I wouldlike to note there were two students who reached S2, skipped S3 and are now in S4. Well Done!!

        • Opinions Matter says:

          @observer – to further support your claim.

          “Cambridge IGCSE is taken in over 100 countries worldwide and are widely recognised by higher education institutions and employers around the world as evidence of academic ability. Cambridge IGCSE is equivalent to the GCSE in the United Kingdom. In some parts of the world, schools use Cambridge IGCSE as an international alternative to the local government’s examination.

          Each learner’s performance is benchmarked using eight internationally recognised grades (A*-G). In some countries, IGCSE qualifications will satisfy the entry requirements for university. In others, they are widely used as a preparation for A Level, AS, International Baccalaureate and US Advanced Placement courses.

          Grade C in IGCSE English (both First Language and Second Language) satisfies the English proficiency requirements of many universities in the UK and other anglophone countries.”

      • skeptical says:

        Standard level IGCSEs have a top grade of C which I believe are taken by the majority of public school students. You are put in either the standard level or extended level by the teachers. Sad that the students don’t know this!!! They think they can only achieve a C!! Someone is lying to them, sadly :(

        • Opinions Matter says:

          “Cambridge IGCSE is taken in over 100 countries worldwide and are widely recognised by higher education institutions and employers around the world as evidence of academic ability. Cambridge IGCSE is equivalent to the GCSE in the United Kingdom. In some parts of the world, schools use Cambridge IGCSE as an international alternative to the local government’s examination.

          Each learner’s performance is benchmarked using eight internationally recognised grades (A*-G). In some countries, IGCSE qualifications will satisfy the entry requirements for university. In others, they are widely used as a preparation for A Level, AS, International Baccalaureate and US Advanced Placement courses.

          Grade C in IGCSE English (both First Language and Second Language) satisfies the English proficiency requirements of many universities in the UK and other anglophone countries.”

      • tim says:

        @ OFFENDED PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENT LOL JOKES. yes in some cases because you are not at that intellectual level the best result you can get is a C. I am speaking from experience because when I sat my math GCSE because I was not in the top class the best score I could get on dumb down version was a C (yes i got my C). The results that everyone who can read and understand is coming from the minster herself. This has nothing to do with the OBA. This has everything to do with a public school system that is clearly failing. I’m sorry you can’t understand this maybe its because your still young however this situation is every bad. Bermuda scored almost 10% lower than the worst school in the UK. It cost the tax payers more money to send you to school than it does to send a child to school at saltus. F doesn’t stand for FANTASTIC.

    • what says:

      I am in the public school system and to be quite honest i find what you are saying to be quite offensive and way over the top. There are actually quite a lot of intelligent people who attend public school, but unfortunately there is a small percentage that makes us look bad. If you claim that we can barely read or write is true, then tell me this. When i catch the bus in the morning how is it that there is a 13 year old girl sitting at the front read a thick adult book? Why are some students getting scholarships after graduation and attending prestigious institutions throughout north america? Why are many of my fellow public school students achieving A’s and B’s in their IGCSE’s? Although i can relate to how trash PLP are and how there are certain aspect of public schooling which need improvement, your claim that we can barely read or write is ignorant.
      P.S. – I have a GPA of a 3.5 and plan on attending university in Canada.

      • Blurt says:

        Great job, keep up the good work, never stop. How many are there like you in the school? Only 28 % of kids maximum are beginning working on doing something similar. The results don’t lie, Education under the PLP is letting Bermuda down and the PLP are twisting results to pretend it isn’t. This has to change, everyone has the right to a good education, about time Bermuda delivered.

    • street wise says:

      Pure SPIN!

      The plp. No talent. No plans. No ideas. No solutions. No hope. No future.

    • Back to Life, Back to Reality says:

      Good news but I was just wondering about something? Yesterday it was announced that five children were expelled from Cedarbridge. Based on their ages I assume they were likely in their senior year and unlikely to graduate (at least from Cedarbridge). So, do kids that start the school year but are expelled or drop out before the year ends get counted in next years stats or do they disppear from the list? How are these kids factored into this equation.

      Does this mean that 95% of the kids that started the school year graduated? Seems high to me. When I was in school each year 4-5 students in their senior year dropped out when they were 16 or got kicked out and others just couldn’t cut it. After looking at my school yearbook I identified, five students that dropped out of school and two that were kicked out. So 7 out of 48 kids didnt even make it to the end of the year, which has me wondering who qualifies and who is disqualified from these numbers.

    • Back to Life, Back to Reality says:

      Wait, wait, wait…I get it now, this is one of those “we had to decieve you” moments again isn’t it?

    • Numbers do lie says:

      I agree! The numbers do lie and the ministry is fixing the numbers on how they calculate graduation rates. They are only counting the number of students who entered S4 but that is not a true picture of the graduation rates. It should be calculate

      (# of graduates in 2012 X 100)/ ((# of students in S1) + (number of students transfered in)-(number of students transfered out))

      It should also be noted, they may have graduated but how many are College ready. Not many!!!! What percentage enter college in college level courses. Being accepted into a college, does not mean they are completed college level work.

      These numbers are not a true picture of our educational system and I agree with comments made by Dr. Grant Gibbons. We should only consider a C or above as a pass. Anything else would not be considered for college, work or anything else of significance.

      Still much work to do in education.

      • Concerned says:

        Do the numbers include those children in the special programs in the Primary Schools, as well as those who are in the Remedial classes in MIddle and High School?????

    • DarkSideOfTheMoon says:

      You are a disgusting person to say this…

  2. Ringmaster says:

    These are supposed to be good? An average of 2 exams taken by each student, and let’s get real. C is a pass, not G or better.

    Not taken in by the spin. These results are atrocious.

    • Blurt says:

      The PLP are failing Bermuda and Bermudians by Standing Strong. They need to admit the truth, that thay have failed, acknowledge the failure is the first step to being able to fix it. If you car only can go 10kph, do you you sY, my car works, and is a great success or do you say, there is something wrong and my car has failed. Once you acknowledge it has failed, you set out to fix it.

      Standing Strong for Bermuda is failing Bermuda and Bermudians. The PLP need to be removed NOW

  3. Argosy says:

    This is hard for non-teachers to follow with its Edexcel, Cambridge, AQA, GPA….etc…etc.

    It’ll be interesting to see it analysed by a knowledgeable insider as to what it REALLY means. This lot cannot be trusted after all the deception they have spewed out for the past 14 years.

    I’m sure the picture is none too rosy, unless you have your PLP rose-colored glasses on!

  4. Chart says:

    What a joke. Political games. That’s the reason the PLP will never be able to fix the educational system, and that it will continue to fail our children.

    • Honestly says:

      The UBP didn’t either…so I guess the OBA will mess it up further!!!!!

      • Back to Life, Back to Reality says:

        The education system, the economy, tourism, employment, national debt were all healthier when the UBP was in power. I would take the UBP back anyday!

        Unless you are a friend or family of the PLP Im not sure how you could possibly argue that your life, or the life of the average Bermudian has improved at all in the last 13 years.

        The only thing that has gone up in the last 13 years is crime!

  5. AGREED says:

    When it comes to education? I know that anything can be done but sometimes I feel really lost on how to get back our education system. Like it really has depleted and it hurts to keep hearing positive things about education when in reality its just depleting. I’m really not trying to tag this to any specific government. I mean the idea of the mega schools by the UBP was a horrible idea and Berkeley didn’t prove to be no better but so much money was spent on these initiatives. Which leaves me to feel like there’s no hope. But soon I will have children and I’m feeling like the only option is to send them to boarding school and that really hurts!

  6. Chart says:

    In English, there was a ninety-one percent (91%) pass rate with thirty-eight percent (38%) at grade C or better. Hang on, so 53% of the students had less than a C? 66% had less than a C in math?
    Oy vey.

    • Family Man says:

      Umm Umm no …. in English 62% of those who chose to take the exam failed (100 – 38). That wouldn’t even be acceptable if English was their second language.

      In math, of the even fewer students who chose to sit that external exam, 92% failed (100 – 8).

      But 95% of the students in the public school education system ‘graduated’.

  7. SpinCycle says:

    Lowering the bar does not make you a world class high jumper!

  8. terry says:

    Nore spin by Con-stick-it-to-you Smith.

  9. Student says:

    This HAS to be a lie…. Unless the passing rate is 50%… Which if it is… Is pathetic.

  10. Sad says:

    The PLP think there people are STUPID!!!!!

  11. v!nce says:

    “In Mathematics there was a seventy-four percent (74%) pass rate with eight percent (8%) at grade C or better. Two hundred and ninety-nine (299) students took the examination.”

    So what you are telling me is:
    24 students got A-C
    77 students got a U

    • Mad Dawg says:

      And out of 299 students, 24 got C or above. We will presumably never find out if anyone got a B or A.

      In most schools the standard measure is % of pupils who got more than 5 GCSE’s at Grade C or above. The figure is often 70% or more; sometimes near 90%. In Bermuda’s public system, that number would be 0%.

  12. Disgusted says:

    Here is what the Vice President of Bermuda College had to say about students coming from public schools in 2011: “Irving Berkowitz said that many high school graduates entering Bermuda College need one to two years of pre-college English and mathematics classes before they are ready.
    “It’s not an indication of how intelligent they are, it is an indication of how prepared they are for college-level courses,” Dr Berkowitz said.
    “If they don’t have college-level reading, how can we expect them to succeed in a reading-heavy course like history? Even in the vocations; the days when you are able to fix a car without a knowledge of mathematics are gone.”

    These results prove that these high school students are not prepared well. With a 95% graduation rate of all students, this shifts the problems elsewhere. Some of these students can’t even fill out a job application on their own!

  13. Kim Smith says:

    Sorry – the timing of these ‘results’ being announced now is too suspicious to be credible.

    • wiaruz says:

      What do you mean? They are crap. This hardly helps the PLP.

  14. JT says:

    Those GCSE results are horrendous. Bernews – contact schools abroad and see what they think of those numbers. The value of graduating from a public highschool has to be seriously questioned. 95%? Meaningless.

    • Goose says:

      Why not just contact the private schools that offer GCSE’s on the island.

      Government Schools
      Minimum of *ONE* GCSE
      28% A*-C

      Private schools
      *FIVE* or more GCSE’s
      Saltus- 89% A*-C
      Warwick Academy- 86% A*-C
      BHS- 91% A*-C

      • JT says:

        Numbers from public schools abroad would be more useful.

        • Family Man says:

          From the UK newspaper The Telegrapgh:
          “A total of 243 schools from around the country have published their GCSE results 2012 online with the Telegraph, available here in our interactive searchable results table. ”

          The very WORST school in the list, a comprehensive school for boys, had an A*-C pass rate of 35.14%.

          Bermuda would have to improve results BY AN ORDER OF MAGNITUDE to reach the level of the worst reporting school in the UK.

        • Family Man says:

          Here’s another article referencing 2011 GCSE results showing improving public school results in the UK compared with private schools:

          “Results in Comprehensives Rise while those in Private Schools Fall

          The GCSE results show a narrowing of the gap between local state schools and the private sector. The % of grades at comprehensives & academies that were A or A* rose from 18.3% in 2010 to 20.2% in 2011 and the % that were C and above rose from 66.2% to 68%. This follows on from last year’s rise, when the % A or A* rose by 0.9%, while those achieving C or better rose by 2.2%. This is unlikely to be due to easier exams as in both years the proportions in private schools fell (those achieving A or A* in the independent sector fell from 53.5% in 2010 to 51.7% in 2011).

          An average 68% pass rate for public schools. Bermuda can’t even get to double digits.

          • JT says:

            Family man – excellent. Thank you. Anyone else with some statistics for comparison?

  15. Joe says:

    Lets put out lots of stats, lots of padding and at end of the day, and hope nobody notices……I have for a number of years marked exams for Cambridge. The only measure is A-C is a pass, anything else is a Fail. You can call it anyway you want but that’s the criteria.
    Mathematics pass rate of 8% is incredible…….in the UK this rate is close to 60%…….I mark candidates in maths whose take the exam in English, which is their second language and they would be ahead of these results…..pitiful.

  16. Back in the day says:

    Let’s take a step back in time.
    Back in the day, GCE exams were mainly written in the academic schools, The Berkeley Institute and Warwick Academy, a few at Whitney and the other high schools. Students who attended the ‘top schools’ attained a stanine of at least 6;6 (the highest being a 9). Before being enrolled to take a GCE exam, which your parents paid for, mock exams were taken and the students then selected to take the exams, therefore a higher percentage achieved a C or higher.
    Presently, ALL public school students are sitting the IGCSE’S in Math, Language and Science, paying for the exams are not coming directly out of the parents pocket and students of all abilities are writing, therefore you would expect the wide range of grades.
    If one were to look at the present day statistics and spread them across all the high schools, back in the day, and related them to the stanines achieved, the results may be very similar. Would one expect a student earning a 2;3 stanine achieve an A* on an IGCSE exam?

  17. Argosy says:

    They set an extremely low standard which they continuously fail to attain!

    In other words….the usual mantra: Lower the bar and be happy!

    Pathetic spin….

  18. Zombie Apocalypse says:

    These results are appalling.

    Where are the ‘community activist’ PLP people exposing this? Don’t they care at all about the fact their children are being conned and failed by the education system? They spend their whole time doing childish puppet shows rather than dealing with real issues.

  19. 32n64w says:

    Between these abysmal exam results, failing tourism numbers, threats of flight cancellations, no new hotel construction despite numerous campaign promises, an entirely unprofessional blog posting from our tourism minister and a third PLP candidate retiring on the eve of the election …. it really comes as no surprise that the PLP resorted to leaking a fabricated report.

    PLP – Betraying Bermudians since 1998 by standing strong in debt of $1,500,000,000 and growing by the minute each day.

  20. being mindfull says:

    I hope you all have a good pention plan, because these are the kids that will be looking after the country…Oh wait, we will have an all foreign government soon, because our kids wont be able to fill out registration applications. I can see the UK finance minister now sitting at his desk balancing Bermuda’s finances using quickbooks and posting the results on FB, because thats all these kids know how to logon too, unless they have to change their passwords, then we’ll be SOL cause they cant even spell password.

  21. Bullseye says:

    These are the worst results I could possibly imagine. Actually I am stunned. These kids are entering the workforce in this way?

    Some kind of post-grad counselling is going to be needed. How did this get so bad? Arent the parents working with their kids to help them?

  22. Bullseye says:

    G is for Graduate! YAY!
    F is for Fantastic! YAY!
    E is for Excellent! YAY!
    D is for Dynamite! YAY!
    C is for Close.
    B is for Borderline.
    A is for Abnormal.

    The new Government Standards.

  23. Codfish says:

    Sort of like saying you went to Harvard when in fact you attended one of their three week programs that is open to anybody who will pay – get real Dame, these kids show up in the work place or up at the college and very, very often are stuck at the 8th Grade level. The reality is Cedar Bridge loses a lot of kids along the way even if they do graduate.

  24. Kiskadee says:

    When you read the comments here written by students it is obvious they can’t string two sentences together and they certainly can’t spell. I don’t know who would employ them. Education in the public schools is appalling and unfortunately not all children can afford private school where the standards are so much higher.

  25. 1) My thoughts on school performance…

    I won’t make any comment on the results themselves because the documents don’t contain much information.

    The data generated by consistent testing and measurement of students’ performance (and teachers and administrators for that matter) should underpin any discussion about the education system in Bermuda.

    In some ways, the methods of testing and measurement don’t matter. However, consistency does matter; over time a consistent approach will reveal whether performance is getting better, worse, or staying the same. [Standardized international multiple choice exams are one option, but locally written exams or short impressionistic snapshots work too.]

    If the Ministry of Education wants to change the way it measures performance then it must provide a way to relate past measurements to the new approach.

    These data should be publicized and explained in a straightforward that we can all understand.

    2) Accountability and Transparency of education results today

    In 2010 the Minister of Education published the Blueprint for Reform in Education: Bermuda Public School System Strategic Plan 2010-2015. Strategic priority four was “Facilitate the Improvement of Standards via Accountability and Transparency”. The details were as follows:

    4.1 Publish annually school performance data to all stakeholders.

    4.2 Establish and communicate consequences if policies are not upheld.

    4.3 Identify the performance measures for schools to be tiered.

    4.4 Develop and communicate an accountability model that will support the school sites as the primary focus for increased achievement.

    4.5 Ensure the development and implementation of annual school improvement plans in alignment with strategic priorities.

    (Blueprint for Reform in Education – Page 26

    On November 29th, the Minister of Education finally released the “Bermuda Public School System Graduation and External Examination Results” (see links below).

    1. Press Release –

    2. Graphs –

    I would like to see more historical data and an explanation of the methodology used to prepare the report. I would also like to see comparisons with the private schools and breakdowns by: gender, race, and household income. The Ministry has the powers to request such data from private schools (certainly the graduation rates), but year after year, they haven’t reported them to the public (if they have gathered the information at all).

    Throughout the world, citizens now demand greater access to government information. Luckily, governments can provide access to such information with greater ease, given our access to the internet.

    3) Consider a report from a different era.

    In 1986, the Ministry of Education published a report called “Report on The 1985 Performance of Students in the General Certificate of Education Examinations (G.C.E.) ‘O’ Level and the Bermuda Secondary School Certificate Examinations (B.S.S.C.)”. The folks at the archives found a copy for me on the second floor of the Bermuda National Library.

    I scanned it:

    We should be able to produce reports with this level of detail annually.

    4) Bermuda needs an Independent Standards Board

    In March 2012, the OBA called for a for an independent standards board – an educational equivalent of the Auditor General – to provide an objective perspective on progress and school performance for parents and the public.

    I was proud to attend West Pembroke Primary and to graduate from the Berkeley Institute. Good public education reduces inequality like nothing else in society.

    The strategy to “facilitate the Improvement of Standards via Accountability and Transparency” is a good one. But unfortunately there has been no follow through. The OBA would get the work done.

    Andrew Simons
    One Bermuda Alliance candidate for Pembroke Central constituency #17