Natl. exams: Performance in core subjects drop 47 percent

Natl. exams: Performance in core subjects drop 47 percent
(FILE PHOTO)

Student performance improves over numerous subjects, says ministry

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Student performance in the Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) national exams improved in 15 of 27 subjects, according to the Ministry of Education, notwithstanding a drop off in students opting to sit certain subjects and the overall impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

There were improved scores in Auto Mechanics, Biology, Bookkeeping and Accounts, Chemistry, Clothing Construction, Combined Science, Commerce, Economics, Electrical Installation, Food and Nutrition, Graphical Communication, History, Music, Office Procedures and Spanish.

English Language and Literature remained unchanged compared to last year.

A total of 255 candidates received at least a grade “C” or better in Mathematics, English Language and a science subject, according to the ministry, which noted that 484 candidates achieved this last year.

The ministry pointed out that a “large number” of candidates may not sit these subjects in the same year.

A “D” grade, which is categorized as “average” reflects a student has “knowledge, specific and appropriate to the task, comprehension evident, with critical thinking and problem-solving skills at a satisfactory level”.

Meanwhile, a “C” grade, which is categorized as “above average”, indicates the student has knowledge specific and appropriate to the task, evidence of sound comprehension skills and a good, high-order set of problem-solving skills.

The Ministry of Education said the grades awarded to students are indicators of their achievements and their potential, but not the “sum of their worth”.

“It is to be noted that there are other factors that have an impact on how candidates perform on the examination,” read the report.

“The factors, both internal and external to the system of schooling, mitigate against good performance and ought to be given some consideration when results are being reviewed.”

In the report, the Examination and Assessment Division acknowledged that the new challenges introduced as a result of the coronavirus could have impacted the performance of candidates who opted to sit the national examinations.

But it said it was confident the results are “valid and reliable”.

According to the results, which were released on Wednesday, 46.25 percent of the grades awarded were “A” through “C”. Last year, 49.5 percent of grades awarded were “A’s” through “C’s”.

There were 15,017 grades awarded this year.

This represents a 36.93 percent decrease compared to 2019.

Last year, 23,810 grades were awarded.

Meanwhile, a slightly higher percentage of “D” grades were awarded — 13.89 compared to 13.16.

“Although there is a decrease in grades ‘A to C’, the highest percentage of grades awarded (26.76 percent) continues to be at grade ‘C,’” the ministry pointed out.

In the core subjects, Mathematics, English Language and Combined Science, the number of candidates sitting the exams decreased 12.35 percent, 29.64 percent and 58.26 percent respectively — representing far less severe decreases among the 27 subjects.

For example, Bookkeeping/Accounts saw a 62 percent decline, from 274 candidates to 114.

The number of students who sat Office Procedures dropped from 381 in 2019 to 139 this year.

This represents a 63.5 percent decline.

Similarly, Auto Mechanics saw a 63.7 percent drop-off in candidates opting to sit the subject.

“English Language, Biology, Mathematics and Religious Studies continue to remain the subjects of choice for the vast majority of candidates,” the ministry said.

“Art and Design Scheme C, Auto Mechanics and Clothing Construction remain the least subscribed subjects.

“This year, unlike any other, had a large percentage increase of absenteeism due to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic and the delayed start, stop and restart of the national exams.”

Girls continue to outperform boys in the national exams.

A total of 49.07 percent of girls sitting the exams achieved grades “A-C”, compared to 41.83 percent of boys achieving the same outcome.

A total of 365 candidates achieved at least a grade “C” in five or more subjects, compared to the 760 candidates who achieved this last year; and 598 candidates received a minimum grade of “D” in five or more subjects this year, compared to the 1,212 candidates in 2019.

According to the ministry, 6,073 students from 101 centers registered for the national exams.

Of these centers, 39 were government schools and 62 were independent.

The number of registered candidates declined nearly six percent (6,454) compared to last year.

“The grades awarded show students’ learning outcomes, which are measured in a variety of different ways because of the different requirements in individual subjects,” read the report.

“Because there was a significant decrease in candidature with many candidates opting not to sit all of their subjects, the number of awarded grades decreased significantly when compared to last year.”