Editorial for 07 February: Test scores are deplorable

In the case of math and English test scores for students in the public school system in the Cayman Islands, the numbers are more than shocking, they’re deplorable.

Many of our Caymanian children are falling behind in the core areas of reading, writing and arithmetic.

And while those in the Ministry of Education say great strides are being made to rectify those numbers and bring students up to speed, the 2012 results show we have failed hundreds if not thousands of children.

What’s worse, if you compare those scores to minimum standards in the UK, our public schools – if they were in the UK – would be considered to be failing and emergency steps taken.

There should be some way to test children before the end of each school year to determine if they should actually be promoted. If they can’t read or do math at a minimum level in Year 4, they shouldn’t be allowed to advance to Year 5.

The public would be shocked at the number of Caymanian students who apply for jobs with top businesses – ours included – that cannot write, spell or do basic math.

But the Cayman Islands still employs social promotion, despite promises from administration after administration to halt the practice.

The Cayman Islands has hosted education conferences, seminars, meetings and think tanks year after year where experts have told educators to end the practice of promoting students through school with their peers without satisfying academic requirements or meeting performance indicators at key grades.

Research shows that passing students on to the next grade when they are unprepared doesn’t prepare students for future employment or for college. It also doesn’t do much for their self esteem or achievement.

Our leaders, administrators, teachers, parents and community members need to expect more of our students and of themselves.

We look forward to the new path the Education Department seems to be on, but we also expect to see major results from our students.


  1. A great deal was made that the new schools would solve the education problem of which I was skeptical. There needs to be an advertising campaign educating people to the value of education.
    Where smart and educated is sexy and cool and dumb and uneducated is uncool.
    Unfortunately much ignorance is found in the homes of these young people where education is not valued.
    This is flat out unacceptable.

  2. Right up to the final sentence I was right behind this editorial. But then, like too much that is written on this subject we close off with yet another platitude that does nothing to help. All the people listed in that sentence frequently say they want ‘something’ better but never say how. The lack of honesty about the worth of education and the public school system in general may be why people find these statistics shocking. How the heck have you not known that the levels of literacy and numeracy in our schools was at this level? Shame on us all then for being so ignorant of the situation when the kids are all around us clearly expressing themselves in ways that scream out they are unprepared for the world of work or adult life. There’s two things I find deplorable – firstly, the predictability of folk to whinge about educational standards leading up to an election. Secondly, I find it deplorable that those with the power, influence and time to invest in these Islands most vital natural resource (and yes, that would be the children) are so willingly dismissive of them. The solution isn’t all about the money, but it has to include honesty, it’s about time spent with the children and about being willing to put education in a situation that allows it to survive party politics. So sure, have high expectations but just what is it you expect to happen? My ‘expectations’ are that society isn’t ready yet to pay the price of a highly successful public education system. Not in terms of dollars and probably even less likely in terms of time spent to make it happen.

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