1 May 2022
Weekly Current (archived version)
Clifton Hunter outperforms John Gray on 2021 exams. Poor Maths scores keep students from attaining ‘national standard’. Start of 2022 CSEC exams delayed. St. Ignatius names new Principal.
Welcome to this week’s newsletter on education in the Cayman Islands.
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Week In Review
Year 11 students at Clifton Hunter High School significantly outperformed students at John Gray High School on 2021 external exams, following a period of 2 years where John Gray had nearly closed the gap in test scores.
The percentage of Clifton Hunter students who passed Mathematics on the Spring 2021 exams was 17 points higher than at John Gray. The difference in pass rates in English was 10 points in Clifton Hunter’s favour.
Overall, 49% of Clifton Hunter students achieved the ‘national expected standard’ of earning 5 or more Level 2 passes (including Maths and English) compared to 32% of John Gray students, a difference of 17 points.
The national pass rate in 2021 for Year 11 public school students was 40%.
In 2019 and 2020, the differences in pass rates in Maths and English at Clifton Hunter and John Gray were between 1 and 2 percentage points, and the overall pass rate differed by only 2 or 3 points.
The performance gap of 17 percentage points is the largest margin since records became available in 2015. From 2015-2020, Clifton Hunter has had a greater pass rate than John Gray each year, with the margin ranging from 2 to 7 points.
Layman E. Scott High School on Cayman Brac continues to have a significantly higher Year 11 pass rate than either public secondary school on Grand Cayman. From 2015-2020, the overall pass rate at Layman Scott was between 12-39 percentage points greater than Clifton Hunter.
In 2021, however, Clifton Hunter closed the overall gap to 6 points. The gap between Layman Scott and Clifton Hunter in Maths — which is the primary factor for students in Cayman to achieve the national standard — was only 3 points.
Patrick Brendel of the Cayman Current and April Cummings of Cayman Life TV discuss high school exam results and other top education stories on this week’s episode of EdBeat.
Relatively poor performance on Year 11 Maths exams is the primary reason why only 40% of Cayman public high school graduates are able to meet the ‘national expected standard’.
Over the years, many more Year 11 students pass English than Maths — and those students who do pass Maths are extremely likely to meet the national standard of achieving 5 Level 2 passes (including Maths and English).
The number of students who meet “national expectation is closely aligned with … achievement in mathematics,” according to the Education Data Report 2021.
Officials point to better-than-expected results in Maths among Year 6 students in 2021 as a positive indicator for improved overall scores in the future.
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.
The report states that in 2021 ‘actual outcomes’ for Year 6 students in Maths slightly exceeded the results predicted by the CAT4.
“The mathematics figures are somewhat consistent with the predictors, however, they show evidence of 8 percent more of the students exceeding expectations than predicted. This performance augurs well for the future,” according to the Data Report.
“That is, the number of students achieving national expectations at the end of [secondary school] for this cohort should be significantly higher than current standard, provided this trend in mathematics’ performance continues.”
CAT4 results for older students predicted that about 40% of the Year 11 cohort would be able to meet the national standard, which, in fact was the actual outcome.
In 2021, 43% of Year 11 students passed Maths, 63% passed Science and 67% passed English.
“Performance metrics indicate that the actual external examination results significantly exceeded predictions particularly in English and science,” according to the report.
The report estimates that between the CAT4 and the Year 11 exams, secondary school students progressed more than 1 grade point above expectations in English, more than 1 grade level above expectations in Science, and about half-a-grade above expectations in Maths.
“The results … imply that schools were able to add significant value by moving lesser able students to achieve acceptable grades,” according to the report.
***Editor’s note: We’ll continue our series of analyses of the 2021 Data Report this week … Stay tuned …***
While we’re on the topic of last year’s exams, it was just announced that the start of this year’s Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams have been pushed back by 3 weeks. The CSECs were supposed to begin Monday, 2 May. Instead, they’ll start 23 May.
The Caribbean Examinations Council announced the delay on Wednesday, 27 April.
Mark Ray, the Director of Cayman’s Department of Education Services, said, “The Council has not yet provided all the specific details. However, we will notify parents, students and teachers of the outcomes once more details become available.”
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British educator Simon Testa has been named as the next Principal of St. Ignatius Catholic School, beginning in August 2022.
According to a letter to parents from the priest in charge of St. Ignatius parish and school, Testa has 3-plus decades of experience in education in “New Zealand, Malta, China, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, and Malaysia”.
Government school inspectors had flagged the Principal vacancy among several significant concerns at St. Ignatius following a one-day ‘thematic visit’ to the school in late January.
More from the Current
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 Compass ($): Cayman student ‘Top in the World’ in maths
- Cayman Compass ($): High-achieving student urges Caymanians to dream big
- The Guardian (UK): Girls shun physics A-level as they dislike ‘hard maths’, says social mobility head
- Jamaica Gleaner: Over 1,000 schools fail inspections
- Jamaica Gleaner: ‘Where do we put the children?’
The Week Ahead
- Education Data Report 2021
- Analyses, school inspectors’ reports
- EdBeat: Episode 36