24 April 2022
Weekly Current (archived version)
DES Director Mark Ray appears on EdBeat. Year 11 girls outperform boys again. Clifton Hunter the brightest spot on 2021 exam scores. New scholarship opportunities.
Welcome to this week’s newsletter on education in the Cayman Islands.
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Week In Review
Department of Education Services Director Mark Ray joined Patrick Brendel of the Cayman Current and April Cummings of Cayman Life TV on this week’s episode of EdBeat.
The main subjects of conversation were two major programmes rolled out in the Cayman Islands public education system: laptops for every student and free school meals.
Ray has worked with Cayman public schools since 2007, and at the beginning of the 2021-22 school year was named Director of DES.
The laptops initiative involves not only providing each student with a computer (or for Lighthouse School students, tablets) but also upgrading IT infrastructure in the schools and ensuring that students have broadband access at home.
The school meals programme was rolled out in primary schools at the start of the school year and extended to secondary schools on 21 March. Each public school student can receive breakfast, lunch and a snack every day.
Each of these programmes carries costs of millions of dollars per year. On EdBeat, Ray discusses the desired outcomes for the programmes, how the government measures progress and where that stands now – in other words, “What does success look like? And how is it going?”
Additionally, Ray talks about where officials are at in terms of assessing student learning loss attributed to COVID-19, and extra efforts educators are making to address those issues.
“Every teacher in Cayman has worked extremely hard, so our appreciation goes out – not just to our government colleagues, but certainly those in the private sector – and I thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Ray said.
As usual, Year 11 girls in public schools posted better results than the boys on Year 11 external exams in 2021.
However, last year the ‘achievement gap’ between the genders shrank to its smallest margin on record, according to the Education Data Report 2021.
Still, girls outperformed the boys on “all metrics”, including English, Maths, Science and in terms of meeting the ‘national expectation’ of achieving 5 or more Level 2 passes (including English and Maths) on standardised exams.
In Spring 2021, 79% of girls passed English, compared to 55% of boys, whereas 45% of girls passed Maths, compared to 42% of boys.
Overall, 43% of girls met the national expectations, compared to 38% of boys.
The closing of the achievement gap to 5 points can be attributed to boys improving their scores in Maths while girls’ scores in Maths have declined or stagnated.
Since 2016, the boys’ pass rate in Maths has increased from 33% to 42%. Meanwhile, the girls’ pass rate in Maths declined from 48% to 45%.
We went over the highlights from the 2021 Data Report in last week’s newsletter before we published the story on the Current’s website.
To review: After a spike in test scores in 2020, Year 11 exam results for Cayman public secondary school students in 2021 regressed to levels on par with previous years.
In total, 40% of Cayman’s Year 11 students met the ‘national expectation’ on exams.
In 2020, test administrators in the UK and Caribbean adjusted their exams in response to the COVID pandemic. The decline in Cayman’s scores in Spring 2021 coincided with the Caribbean Examination Council’s decision to return to its usual practices.
The 40% pass rate dropped sharply from the 56% pass rate in 2020 and is a slight increase from the 39% pass rate in 2019.
However, only 1 of Cayman’s 3 public high schools posted better results in 2021 than 2019 — Clifton Hunter High School.
Clifton Hunter’s 49% pass rate in 2021 was a 10-point improvement from 2019.
By comparison, John Gray High School’s 32% pass rate in 2021 was a 5-point decrease from 2019. And Layman E. Scott Sr. High School’s 55% pass rate in 2021 was a 17-point decline from 2019.
***Editor’s note: We’ll continue our series of analyses of the 2021 Data Report this week … Stay tuned …***
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More from the Current
- WORC Partners with Inspire Cayman to Provide Paid Training Opportunities
- Doctors Hospital Supporting Cayman Arts Festival and Young Musicians
Around The Web
The Current is a central resource for education journalism by others, including regional and international news relevant to Cayman education. (Find our running collection of links here.)
- Cayman News Service: Almost 60% of Year 11 students miss 2021 exam targets
- Jamaica Gleaner: Editorial | Leverage school feeding programme for agriculture
- Eye Witness News (Bahamas): NOT YET: Min. of Health still monitoring schools for full face-to-face return
- The BVI Beacon: Premier: More donors needed for ESHS
The Week Ahead
- Education Data Report 2021
- Analyses, school inspectors’ reports
- EdBeat: Episode 35