Secondary schools’ test results improving

Cayman Brac has top performing Year 11 students

The number of pupils gaining good grades by the time they leave Cayman’s secondary schools is continuing to rise, based on early results released during graduation ceremonies.

Despite concern over student behavior and academic standards in public schools, exam results show an improvement on previous years, continuing the upward curve of the past five years.

The results suggest that just over 40 percent achieved the benchmark of five “good passes” at the end of Year 11 GCSE/CXC exams – a slight improvement on last year’s 39 percent.

The figure leaves Cayman’s schools still trailing their U.K. counterparts, which use a similar exam system.

In 2013 in the same age group, at the end of Year 11, 60 percent of students in U.K. schools achieved the five “good pass” benchmark – that is, five grades at A* (A-star) to C or better, including math and English in GCSE exams.

The results in Cayman, so far, reflect the 2013 Year 11 exam performance from the final year at Clifton Hunter, Layman E. Scott and John Gray high schools.

They will be buffered by the fruits of an additional year at the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre for some students, who will receive exam results later this year for retakes and vocational qualifications taken during Year 12.

The complete results will be announced in August, and early indications suggest the 69.1 percent five pass rate from 2013 Year 12 graduates could be bettered.

Layman Scott in Cayman Brac had the top performing students at Year 11 – with 70 percent getting five passes or more; 44 percent made the grade at Clifton Hunter and 33 percent at John Gray.

On the Brac, Principal Adrian Jones lauded students and their parents, saying the success of Layman Scott students was helping to drive the improvement nationally.

“This graduating class is undoubtedly the highest achieving graduating class in the history of this school and, while undocumented, is assuredly the highest achieving graduating class ever in the Cayman Islands,” he said in his graduation report.

A student-teacher ratio of 12 to one, compared with around 18 to one for Grand Cayman, was highlighted in a recent discussion of exam results in the Legislative Assembly as one of the reasons for the comparative success on the Brac.

Education Minister Tara Rivers said at the time, “There were impressive results in all our high schools this year – we recognize room for improvement but we have seen advances.”

At John Gray High School, which has the largest student population and draws its pupils from more urban areas, including George Town and West Bay, school leaders were also encouraged by the results.

“The school’s examination results are improving each year and this is a testament to the aspiration and effort of the students, the dedication and hard work of the staff of John Gray High School,” said Principal Lyneth Monteith.

In the U.K., mandatory schooling ends at the end of Year 11. State schools are ranked in league tables based on the number of pupils who gain five A* to C grades, including English and math.

Schools that fall below that target face being closed or taken out of local government control and converted into academies – meaning they are put under new leadership, often in public-private partnerships.

Ms. Rivers recently mooted the idea of a similar system for Cayman, saying, “The proposal is to establish a governance model that will revolutionize the delivery of public education services through public-private partnerships.”

Education officials have previously suggested it is not fair to make direct comparison with the U.K., which has had a National Curriculum in place for far longer than Cayman.

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