'Significant decline' in Tobago's SEA performances

THA Secretary of Education, Research and Technology Zorisha Hackett says there has been a significant decline in Tobago’s students’ performance in this year’s Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) examination.

At a news conference hosted by the division on Friday, hours after the results were released, Hackett congratulated the island’s 984 students for “exhibiting high levels of resilience, tenacity and commitment to your educational journey,” despite the challenges of online learning during the covid19 pandemic.

She said no student was withdrawn from writing the exam.

But, she said, “Notwithstanding this intrinsic drive to succeed, preliminary scores indicate that there has been significant decline in overall students’ performance in this year’s SEA examinations.”

She said 278 students passed for their first choice, but 128 students will have to re-sit the exam.

Giving a breakdown of the mean scores, Hackett said the average was 33.8 per cent in maths and for English language and creative writing, 39.4 per cent and 39.9 per cent respectively.

In 2021, the average was 39.8 per cent in maths, 53.7 per cent in English language and 51.8 per cent in creative writing.

“This apparent decline in performance may be characterised by a loss of learning due to rapid changes in the modality of our teaching and learning, the psycho-social impacts due to the uncertainty of the period and the socio-economic disparity that exists within our communities.”

Hackett said 296 students (29.6 per cent) scored above the national mean in maths. Three hundred and ninety students (39.6 per cent) scored above the national mean in English language and 391 students (39.7 per cent) in creative writing.

She said the results suggest there is much work to be done not just at SEA level but in all classes leading up to standard five.

“We therefore have taken a decision to implement strategies that will monitor and evaluate the systems of teaching and learning for the Tobago district. Going forward, we will treat with the impact of the learning loss due to the pandemic by tracking the progress of this cohort of students.”

Hackett said the division has already begun the process by diagnosing students from standards one-three through the administration of the Tobago District Assessment (TDA).

She said from mid-July to the end of August, the division will implement an intervention programme to support all students who performed below the national mean.

Acting schools supervisor Phillip Rochford, who also addressed the news conference, said the division will engage the district leadership team, curriculum unit and student support services unit as early as next week to conceptualise a plan to address poor performance in primary schools.

He agreed that the focus cannot only be on SEA students but also those in other areas of the primary school system.

Assistant Secretary Orlando Kerr urged the successful students to make the best of their secondary education.

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