Our headline story of Thursday – “Test scores ‘not good enough’” – apparently caused quite a stir amongst certain government officials who didn’t like what it had to say very much.
For those who might have missed the story, it was based on an open records request, filed by a local public interest group, which revealed that an alarming number of children in the public school system are under-performing in math and English subjects.
The story also quoted Education Department chief Shirley Wahler and chief officer from the Ministry of Education, Mary Rodrigues, explaining the results of the test scores and acknowledging the Cayman Islands was facing a long-standing problem with numeracy and literacy.
In this story, Ms Wahler is quoted as stating her view that it was “unfair” to compare local students with those in the United Kingdom, who have had a national school curriculum in place for decades.
According to Mrs. Rodrigues: “While we are making progress, there is still much further work to be done to ensure many more of our children achieve success in these critical areas.” [*]
Our headline, and our story, set out the situation quite accurately indeed.
Unfortunately, the country’s Education Minister, Rolston Anglin, used his podium on national television Thursday after having read the article to chastise the newspaper.
We don’t have the time to go into everything wrong that the minister said on Thursday and it really doesn’t matter what he said anyway. Suffice to say, mealy-mouth accusations of ‘negativism’ in the media and alleging that newspaper writers are ‘out to get us’ are frankly relics of a bygone era and we’d hoped the minister would have learned better by now.
There is a problem in the basic educational achievements among students in this country. Until that is really addressed, and not just through announcing the latest “strategic plan” by the way, the minister surely has more important things to do than make accusations about how test scores – that everyone agrees are substandard – have been misinterpreted.
[*] Editor’s note: Change made in story to reflect the correct quote attributed to Mary Rodrigues.