‘Need Targeted Efforts To Improve Mathematics’

February 14, 2018

In providing details on the Cambridge Checkpoint assessment results, Minister of Education and Workforce Development Diallo Rabain said that Primary 6 students exceeded the target of 3.0 in English and science however did not meet the 3.0 target for maths, while M3 students scored just below the 3.0 target.

The Minister also provided information on the IGCSE results, and said “overall these results indicate the need for targeted efforts to improve mathematics at the primary, middle and senior middle levels.”

Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, Minister Rabain said, “Thank you for taking time this afternoon to come and learn about the most recent Cambridge International assessment results for students in the Bermuda Public School System. Joining me today is the Department of Education Director of Academics, Dr Llewellyn Simmons.

“This press conference will focus on an overview of the international assessment results for the 2016 – 2017 school year. In the past we’ve reported the results in October, however, the technical staff at the Department of Education have taken time to prepare a more parent-friendly and community-friendly report that is now available online on the Ministry’s website.

“Today, we will share the Cambridge Checkpoint results for primary and middle schools and the results for the IGCSE examinations which students sat last school year.

As a note, the video below is not a full video like we normally post, it shows part of the Minister’s statement and the Q&A as due to a technical issue, we missed the beginning, and do apologize for this!

Minister Rabain continued, It should be noted, the Cambridge Checkpoint assessment is a diagnostic assessment with the sole purpose of providing students and teachers with specific feedback about each student’s strengths and deficits in relation to the essential skills and knowledge for each of the core subject areas of English, math and science.

“The information from the Cambridge Checkpoint assessment is intended to be used to develop individual learning plans geared towards helping students to acquire the requisite knowledge and skills.

“Our Primary 6 and Middle 3 students were assessed in the areas of English, math and science using the Cambridge Checkpoint assessment. This is an international assessment administered in over 170 countries by private schools who select which students write these assessments. The Bermuda Public School system is the only public school system in the world to use Cambridge to administer these assessments system-wide.

“Over 300 Primary 6 students were assessed with the Cambridge Checkpoint assessment with an expected cohort average target of 3.0 on a scale of 1.0 to 6.0 for English, math and science.

“Let me first say that I am very pleased to report that our P6 students, as a cohort, exceeded the target of 3.0 in the areas of English and science. Furthermore, the results for English were significantly close to the Cambridge International average score, indicating students are close to being on par with their international counterparts.

Chart extracted from the report:

2017 Bermuda Public School System Report Feb 14 2018 (1)

“However, our Primary 6 students did not meet the 3.0 target for mathematics. Students’ scores were also notably below the Cambridge International average score for mathematics. These results indicate a need to continue to focus our attention on improving math scores.

“Our M3 students were also assessed in the areas of English, math and science. 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.

Chart extracted from the report:

2017 Bermuda Public School System Report Feb 14 2018 (2)

“I will now speak to the IGCSE results, students at the senior level must take the IGCSE for English, math and science as a requirement for earning the Bermuda School Diploma [BSD]. Students must earn a grade between A* and G. Using this band of grades, 97% passed English, 92% science and 72% mathematics.

“We also examined IGCSE results for the percentage of students falling in the A* to C band. The results for this band of grades drop significantly in all three subject areas.

“Overall, these results indicate the need for targeted efforts to improve mathematics at the primary, middle and senior middle levels.

Next Steps:

  • We have already received from Cambridge a comprehensive analysis of our students’ performance on the math Checkpoint assessments. This data has been used to develop a professional learning strategy for teachers which will commence next month.
  • In March teachers will participate in workshops designed to address student deficits and teams consisting of members from the Department of Education and Cambridge will conduct walkthrough observations to gain first hand data about teaching and learning experiences in our primary, middle and senior schools. Cambridge International staff will then share the observation data with principals and teachers and advise on the mathematics teaching strategies to best address any observable deficits.
  • The Department will undertake the recruitment and hiring of three education officers in math, science and reading to provide the supervision and monitoring of the curriculum implementation.
  • This school year the roll-out for Strategic Plan 2022 will commence and the strategies will lay the foundation for the future work needed to improve Checkpoint scores.

Minister Rabain added, “In closing, the data indicates the need for schools and teachers to work collaboratively, intentionally and persistently to implement strategies to improve students’ mathematics results. Students must also make a concerted effort to improve their performance and parents must work in concert with schools and support wholeheartedly the efforts of the schools and teachers.

“The Department of Education staff must also provide the resources, professional development and support. The gains and improvement are evident when all four stakeholder groups work together to improve the results.

“This Government is committed to ensuring a quality education for all students and for ensuring accountability for an improvement in our results as we implement Plan 2022.”

The  2017 Bermuda Public School System Report follows below [PDF here]

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Comments (23)

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  1. Justin says:

    Easy fix. Since we spend more per head on public education compared to private schools we should give every child a $20,000 check every year to attend the private school of their choice. If they can’t hack it at a private school then they can go to a technical school till they turn 16 and then they can go to work.

    • Sickofantz says:

      Ridiculous idea. Why would the existing parents of private school children pay if they could get it for free?

      • Justin says:

        Good point. The whole thrust of my argument was that there needs to be more accountability in the system given how much money we are spending every year on education.

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      An excellent proposal. One that has been suggested many time over the years. Too bad such a system would mean that the gravy train at the DOE would come right off it’s rails. Imagine if the private schools together oversaw the administration of education in Bermuda. Imagine how few people they would need. Imagine how many teachers & administrators currently simply putting in time would be out looking for a real job.

  2. Family Man says:

    Just how bad do results have to be before teachers are fired?

    Not a single student managed to get an A in either Math or Science. And this is just general science, not a focused Physics, Chemistry or Biology. What chance do these kids have in an increasingly technical world?

    • Justin says:

      Zero chance. The PLP will blame the OBA the UBP, racism, etc… But they’ll never tell people that we spend sh*t loads of money on education and the real blame lies with the teachers and parents.

    • So Tired says:

      I agree. At some point you have to ask “who’s teaching what and how?

      • Teachers put up with a lot says:

        It’s not all about the teachers, the teachers are doing their job in the school but these things need to be practiced at home and the parents need to monitor and engage their children when doing homework! Student’s need to be motivated.

    • Neyo says:

      Not true, something must be off with the data, I know for a fact there was an A in Physics and an A in Computer Science.

    • Day says:

      This data only shows the S2 results (those graduating in 2019) and not the other students that may have sat the exam. I know for a fact that there was at least one A, but that student was from the S1 cohort so their result was not represented.

    • Day says:

      It is very hard for high school teachers to take students with checkpoint scores averaging at 2.1 out of 6.0 and in two years have them prepared to take one of the hardest curricula on the island (CIE Cambridge) that even some private schools don’t attempt (look up Edexcel vs. Cambridge CIE). Not to mention that this has to be done in two years; and if one of those exams were placed in front of you, you probably wouldn’t pass it either.

      • Politricks says:

        But the thing is, is that these poor scores are not a one-off. It is literally the same story year in and year out.

  3. Oh really says:

    There answer once again hire more staff. How is that the answer? Hiring more staff at 100k plus salary. Government needs to fix this real quick. How are these kids to survive university without the foundation they need. Why is it So much to educate public kids vs private. The depth of private education is much much better than public yet public is more. Maybe the minister should find out. Very unfortunate that these kids are failing.

  4. Dready says:

    Send your kids to private school if you want them to have an education.

  5. Comfortably numb says:

    No reputable education authority recognizes an IGCSE pass unless it falls in the A-C bracket. Bermuda public school students sit only three subjects and “boast” a pass rate hovering around 20%. The private school students sit between six to eight subjects and have a pass rate around 90%. Despite this anomaly, it costs more to educate a public school student than a private school student. If people in authority cannot see this the emperor really is wearing clothes!

  6. Triangle Drifter says:

    Yet the teachers get an automatic raise????

    Don’t care what profession you are in, except maybe driving a bus, you need maths. Taxi driver, plumber, carpenter, electrician, carpet layer, laying block, on & on, you need to have a handle on maths & you need to be able to figure it out in your head.

    What is going on in the Government schools?

  7. Ringmaster says:

    The PLP were elected in 1998 and one of their election platforms was to fix Education. That was 20 years ago. It appears nothing has changed in 20 years, so how will hiring 3 “Educators” fix the problem? The Ministry of Education has to be disbanded and the Public Schools run on a similar basis to Private Schools, with a small Board to set curriculum, check results etc. It will cost far less and produce better results (they can’t be worse). Spend money on the best teachers, even if that means expats. None of this will happen, so why bother trying to entice tech businesses here? Bermuda is competing with places like Singapore who have a first class education system, with motivated workers.

  8. Make a new plan Stan says:

    What will the legacy of teachers in the current public school system be?

    Are students going to look back with fondness on people who challenged them to be more than they ever dreamed?

    Or will they be left to feel that EVERYONE has failed them?

    The cycle of parents blaming teachers and teachers blaming parents is sad because in the past so many parents were not well educated and ALL of their trust was in the teachers to guide their children toward a better understanding of the world they lived in. Often a teacher may have been the only person in a child’s world to give them hope for a better future.

    While you are celebrating the beautiful heritage of the BUT this year will you also be celebrating better exam results?

    If you are a public school teacher who has children in private school is it difficult to put your all into getting your students to succeed?

    Is it a conflict of interest to work for one “company” and have investment in its “competitor”?

    Is a person’s mental capacity only as great as their parent’s’ bank accounts?

    Does anyone realize that the children who fail today become everyone’s problem tomorrow ?

    They become the people so disaffected that they become criminals and people who don’t care how well educated you or YOUR children are….they will take what you worked hard for or worse become the bad relationship decision your educated child makes. It can happen…..ask around it already has and will continue to happen.

    Are we simply educating our future underclass?

    My only hope at the moment lies in the fact that the education minister’s child is in public school and so is mine…….we’ll see what happens

  9. Bottom of the pyramid says:

    I’m a public school teacher, and while some of my colleagues across the system definitely need to go, the most pressing issue is the lack of any guidance or help from the top. We have no resources, no technology, children who are suffering from mental health issues, low IQ, socio-economic issues, and we are given ZERO help. Furthermore our spending on education relative to our GDP ranks us at 151st worldwide, as we we spend about 1.7% of the GDP on education. As log as education remains a governmental portfolio, parents will never be held accountable AND NEITHER WILL TEACHERS AND THE MINISTRY. FYI I have colleagues that spend on average about 500$-1000$ a year to provide for our students. Paper, printer ink, pens, laminators, books…. WE BUY IT OURSELVES! And per capita this is the fourth richest country on the planet!!!

    Teachers are an easy scapegoat for massive systematic failures.

    • Heyy says:

      Spending on education relative to collected tax is incredibly high…. you do the maths! GDP is not a good comparative choice for your argument due to differing tax regimes.

  10. Family Man says:

    That report is appalling. Not just the results, but the writing is pathetic (or an indication of a failed education system).

    To quote from the report written by the Director of Academics (who seems proud of his Ph.D.): “Bermuda Public Schools continues (sic) to provide a personal, meaningful educational experience to meets (sic) the needs of all students. We are proud of the accomplishments of our schools and students.”

    Really … they’re proud.
    And they think they only need to focus on math.

    • Tuck says:

      I am appalled too. This system has failed multiple generations and the long term politicians from both parties should hold their heads low in shame.

      I applaud the efforts of Minister Caines to change social attitudes (from a different ministry). But we need a fundamental clear out of the education system here in order to stop the rot. For a nation that is ranked so highly by GDP and IT penetration it is practically criminal that only 1 student achieved a C in science. I can only imagine what that student would have achieved given a better chance in life. This is no way to deliver social empowerment or improve economic wealth.

      Please, please, please, swallow the pride and do something to actually help our children.

      And please start by withdrawing the sycophantic prose suggesting that the results are alright. They are not. Get over it and take some English lessons yourself.

  11. Ty says:

    This does not apply to all school aged children but……

    When are we (all of us) especially GOVT going to realize that children just DO NOT WANT to go to school. What is it that ANYONE on the planet can do to entice kids to get up in the morning and say ‘i can’t wait to go to school today’…..Absolutely nothing. Not even WiFi will help.

    There used to be a time that if you did not know what 6 x 5 was you had to literally do ||||| ||||| ||||| six times and then add up each individual stroke. Who remembers those days? Technology has totally ruined the retention of knowledge in most peoples brains. No more need to if i can just GOOGLE it.

    I truly don’t know what anyone can do to better this situation and apparently neither does ANY government.