9 May 2022 (Day after Mother’s Day)
Weekly Current (archived version)
Scores on ‘reasoning’ tests drop after COVID lockdown. Student performance varies at public primary schools. LIFE has new Executive Director. Clifton Hunter hosts Career Fair.
Welcome to this week’s newsletter on education in the Cayman Islands.
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Week In Review
In the Fall 2020 term following the closure of schools due to COVID-19, Year 6 public primary school students scored significantly worse on tests designed to measure their reasoning abilities than students had the year before the pandemic.
Results on the ‘Cognitive Abilities Test Fourth Edition’ (or CAT4) predicted that anywhere from 2 to 4 times as many Year 6 students in 2020/2021 would be unable to pass Reading, Writing or Mathematics as the CAT4 tests had predicted for Year 6 students in the prior school year.
In reality, more Year 6 students ended up passing Reading and Maths than the year before, although the percentage of students ‘exceeding expectations’ was lower in all 3 subject areas, according to the Education Data Report 2021.
In Years 4, 6 and 9, government schools evaluate students’ “reasoning (thinking) abilities” using the 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.
For Year 6 students in the 2020/2021 school year, CAT4 results predicted that 65% of students would pass Reading, compared to 91% the year before; that 76% would pass Writing, compared to 91% the year before; and that 58% would pass Maths, compared to 81% the year before.
While the number of students predicted to be able to ‘meet expectations’ in the 3 subject areas was similar from year to year, the number of students predicted to ‘exceed expectations’ declined to zero (in Reading and Maths) or nearly zero (2% in Writing).
The year before, CAT4 results predicted that 28% of Year 6 students would ‘exceed expectations’ in Reading, 20% in Writing and 24% in Maths.
The 2020/2021 students would have taken the CAT4 tests after returning to school in Fall 2020 following the closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.
At the end of the 2020/2021 school year, which was uninterrupted while the Cayman Islands was in a ‘COVID-free bubble’, the overall results for Year 6 students were mixed, compared to both the CAT4 predictions and the results from the prior year’s cohort.
However, the Year 6 students did perform better than was suggested by the gaps in the CAT4 predictions between the 2 cohorts.
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 CAT4 assessments of students’ pre-existing “thinking abilities”, according to the Education Data Report 2021.
In terms of CAT4 results, anywhere between 14% and 71% of students were predicted to perform ‘below expectations’ in Reading, Writing or Maths, depending on the school and the subject.
Largest predicted groups, ‘below expectations’:
- Maths: 71%, East End Primary
- Maths: 64%, West End Primary
- Maths: 64%, George Town Primary
Smallest predicted groups, ‘below expectations’:
- Writing: 14%, East End
- Maths: 15%, Creek and Spot Bay Primary
- Writing: 15%, Prospect Primary
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 0% to 100%.
Depending on the school and the subject, sometimes students’ performance exceeded predictions and sometimes the actual results lagged far behind predictions.
Largest actual groups, ‘below expectations’:
- Writing: 100%, East End
- Writing: 73%, Theoline McCoy
- Writing: 63%, Red Bay
Smallest actual groups, ‘below expectations’:
- Maths: 0%, Creek and Spot Bay
- Reading: 7%, West End
- Writing: 7%, West End
To help our readers explore the data, we built charts comparing CAT4 predictions and results for each primary school, as well as a searchable/sortable table containing all the information.
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Erica Dell’Oglio is the new Executive Director of LIFE (Literacy Is For Everyone), succeeding Juliet Austin in that position.
Dell’Oglio has been with LIFE since July 2020, previously in the role of Volunteer and Programmes Coordinator.
“We are delighted that Ms. Dell’Oglio has accepted the position as Executive Director and are confident, that as LIFE continues to grow and evolve, she will be a valuable leader to the organisation, having both experience and passion for her work,” said Woody Foster, LIFE Chairman.
“Working with LIFE has allowed me to not only be a part of but see firsthand the impact better education and literacy has on our children. I am very happy to take on the role of Executive Director and work alongside wonderful and likeminded individuals within LIFE and the wider community to achieve our Mission of significantly impacting literacy levels in the Cayman Islands,” Dell’Oglio said.
Some of Dell’Oglio’s priorities will be developing the organisation’s future 3-year strategy, recruitment of additional LIFE team members and the continued roll out of the Thrive by Five initiative.
“Our goal over the next three years is on a fundamental shift from literacy intervention to systemic change to literacy in the Cayman Islands. We intend to focus on our three pillars; advocacy, community partnerships and critical programmes,” she said.
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 Life TV: Creative and qualified Caymanians
- The Guardian (UK): Pens down: England’s exams regulator exploring online A-levels and GCSEs
- The Guardian (UK): Number of male teachers in England at all-time low as pay levels drop
The Week Ahead
- Education Data Report 2021
- Analyses, school inspectors’ reports
- EdBeat: Episode 36