The Primary School Examination results have been issued and we have taken a look at the best performers and even some inconsistencies sighted by one primary institution. We have also reported on the district’s overall performance which has been recorded as the best of all six districts. Year after year, however, there is continuous concern over the performance of the students countrywide.

 

The results have not seen much significant improvement in the recent year and tonight we take a look at some of the challenges faced in schools here in the Orange Walk District and which have been found to affect the students’ performance considerably. According to District Education Manager Carla Alvarez, Orange Walk is the district that submits the highest number of children who need special accommodation for the exams.

 

This year alone, there was an increase of referrals so the Bishop Martin High School building was used as a testing center for these students. The staff there was trained specifically as readers and scribes for the students. But even before these arrangements are made, the Special Education Officer does an assessment to see if the children referred have a learning impediment and the findings are alarming.


Carla Alvarez – District Education Manager


“To see if in fact the child, warrants some kind of special accommodation and what we have found in many cases is not that the child has some kind of learning impediment or disability is simply that the child doesn’t have the foundation in reading, literacy is a problem, so what we are going to do this coming year in schools where we get a large number of referrals we are going to go into those schools and conduct what is called a micro-diagnostic test to see where the children are in terms of their reading level and then are going to be working with those schools to put some kind of intervention in place to address this problem.”


Alvarez explains that there are a couple schools that send high numbers of referrals to the center. While they are working with some schools already, Alvarez says other schools can start doing their part to help curb the problem.

 

Carla Alvarez – District Education Manager


“I continue to ask the principals to put your strongest teachers, your most qualified teachers in the lower division because that is where they need the foundation in literacy in phonics and all of that, right so that when the child, and we do have like for example we are finding out that some schools what we are doing what we call full supervision that we are going out, we are interviewing parents and their students and teachers and we are finding out that some children are in infant two, standard one and don’t know how to read so there is a serious problem there because these children are going through the system, maybe they are being promoted and I want to discourage teachers because I do find out that there are some schools where for example where the students reach a certain level, like when they reach standard one then the teacher stops reading the problem solving questions but I think it needs to start from the beginning, we have to teach the children how to read first then they can work on the problem solving questions on their own but what some teachers are doing is that they are reading the questions to their students and then telling them solve the problem and of course the students will solve the problem, but when they go to sit PSE there is nobody there who will read the problem for them so that is where they are falling behind.”

 

In addition to this, the education center has been working with some schools taking a closer look at the PSE results for those institutions. As part of the efforts, lower division teachers are being coached on how to best deal with the issue and encourage proper reading and reading assessments in the lower division classes. But while the department and schools are working on improving the situation, parents also have a responsibility to be more involved in their children’s education.


Carla Alvarez – District Education Manager


“In the environment at home, but many times and the only time that children see books or have to read is what they do in class, what they do at school so it is not part of the culture so I want to encourage the parents as much as possible even if it is just a paragraph that you have to read to your child every night or a very short story do that as much as possible and try to build that culture and also work closely with your teacher in ensuring that your child is reading, check on your child’s performance at school often because the teachers can’t do it alone and in a lot of instances it is funny that when children are at the pre-school level the parent is always present specially curing child simulation month and when the child is in pre-school and all of a sudden when the child is in infant one there is some attention there and as the child progresses through the school system that attention dwindles so by the time the child is in standard five or standard six the parent doesn’t go to the school to check on the child’s performance so it has to be something that is a part of the culture.”


The PSE awards will be held next week with the awards for the best national performers being issued on June 25th and the regional awards for this area on June 26th.

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