How prepared a student is for high school could depend on which public primary school they attend.
The level of student performance varies significantly among Cayman Islands public primary schools, with differences in results only partly explained by assessments of students’ pre-existing “thinking abilities”.
Additionally, statistics in the Education Data Report 2020 suggest that, as a rule, public primary schools are failing to pull students with the lowest ability up to expected standards — and they are also failing to ensure that students with the highest ability surpass those standards.
This is the fourth in a series of stories analysing the Data Report.
‘Cognitive Abilities Test’
In Years 4, 6 and 9, government schools evaluate students’ “reasoning (thinking) abilities” using what is known as the ‘Cognitive Abilities Test Fourth Edition’ (or CAT4).
CAT4 is not a test of ‘knowledge’ (like the CSECs or GCSEs) but is designed to assess a student’s ability to think — i.e. in terms of words, numbers, shapes, and space.
(Read an earlier story for more detailed information on CAT4.)
The Data Report sorts the student population into 3 groups based on their CAT4 results — those predicted to perform ‘below expectations’, those predicted to perform ‘at expectations’, and those predicted to ‘exceed expectations’ — and then breaks out those groups by individual primary school.
The Data Report also divides students into 3 groups based on their ‘actual results’ at the end of Year 6, as assessed by teachers — again breaking out the groups by primary school.
The outcome is that you can see how many students at each school were expected to fail, pass or excel, and then how many students actually did — in three main subject areas: Reading, Writing and Maths.
The number of Year 6 students differs from school to school. The smallest schools are in the least-populated districts of Cayman Brac, East End and North Side and have between 12 and 15 students in the year group.
The largest schools are in West Bay, Red Bay, Savannah and Prospect and have between 54 and 84 students in the year group.
(See a previous story to get enrolment and maximum capacity numbers for every public school.)
In terms of CAT4 results, anywhere between 0% and 35% of students were predicted to perform ‘below expectations’, depending on the school and the subject.
Largest predicted groups, ‘below expectations’:
- Reading: 20%, Sir John A. Cumber Primary School
- Writing: 20%, John Cumber
- Maths: 35%, John Cumber
Smallest predicted groups, ‘below expectations’:
- Reading: 0%, Edna M. Moyle Primary School
- Writing: 0%, Edna Moyle
- Maths: 0%, East End Primary School, West End Primary School
In the top CAT4 group, ‘exceed expectations’, the proportion of students ranged from 3% to 47%.
Largest predicted groups, ‘exceed expectations’:
- Reading: 47%, West End
- Writing: 27%, Red Bay Primary School
- Maths: 40%, West End
Smallest predicted groups, ‘exceed expectations’:
- Reading: 10%, George Town Primary School
- Writing: 3%, George Town
- Maths: 5%, George Town
When it comes to actual results at the end of Year 6, the variance between schools was far greater than the CAT4 predictions.
The proportion of students who actually performed ‘below expectations’ ranged from 13% to 78%.
Largest actual groups, ‘below expectations’:
- Reading: 78%, George Town
- Writing: 73%, George Town
- Maths: 63%, George Town
Smallest actual groups, ‘below expectations’:
- Reading: 13%, West End
- Writing: 20%, West End
- Maths: 20%, West End
The proportion of students who actually ‘exceeded expectations’ ranged from 0% to 46%.
Largest actual groups, ‘exceed expectations’:
- Reading: 46%, Creek and Spot Bay Primary
- Writing: 38%, Edna Moyle
- Maths: 22%, Prospect Primary School, Red Bay
Smallest actual groups, ‘exceed expectations’:
- Reading: 0%, East End
- Writing: 0%, East End, George Town
- Maths: 0%, East End, Edna Moyle, West End
(The ‘actual results’ posted by each school largely correspond to the ‘student attainment’ ratings given by the Office of Education Standards during their inspections.)
Not meeting predictions
According to the Data Report, “It is evident that students are underachieving in English and mathematics relative to their CAT estimates” at the primary level.
That observation holds true for both the lowest- and highest-potential groups, at nearly all schools, in nearly all subjects.
At every school, and in every subject, a larger number of students actually performed ‘below expectations’ than was predicted.
Largest difference, actual vs. predicted, ‘below expectations’:
- Reading: 70 percentage points, George Town
- Writing: 65 points, George Town
- Maths: 43 points, George Town
Smallest difference, actual vs. predicted, ‘below expectations’:
- Reading: 6 points, West End
- Writing: 13 points, West End
- Maths: 7 points, Prospect
Creek and Spot Bay, Edna Moyle, and Prospect were the only schools where the ‘actual’ number of students who ‘exceeded expectations’ in any subject was greater than predicted.
Biggest gains, actual vs. predicted, ‘exceed expectations’:
- Reading: 23 points, Creek and Spot Bay
- Reading: 8 points, Prospect
- Writing, 23 points, Edna Moyle
These 3 charts show the predicted and actual results for Reading, Writing and Maths in each public primary school.
This table lets you explore and sort public primary schools according to the percentage of students who were predicted to perform ‘below expectations’, who actually performed ‘below expectations’, and the difference between the predictions and the actual results.
|School||Subject||Students||Predicted Below||Actual Below||Difference Below|
|Edna M Moyle||Maths||13||8%||23%||15%|
|Creek and Spot Bay||Reading||13||8%||23%||15%|
|Creek and Spot Bay||Maths||13||15%||31%||16%|
|Creek and Spot Bay||Writing||13||8%||31%||23%|
|John A Cumber||Maths||84||35%||58%||23%|
|John A Cumber||Writing||84||20%||48%||28%|
|John A Cumber||Reading||84||20%||48%||28%|
|Edna M Moyle||Writing||13||0%||31%||31%|
|Edna M Moyle||Reading||13||0%||38%||38%|