There were a few highlights in the preliminary Year 6 and GCSE test scores announced on Thursday at the annual Educational Professionals Welcome, although the scores show Cayman students still struggling to rise to international standards.

Lyneth Monteith, director of the Department of Education, presented the data to the crowd, saying the scores were generally improving. She touted “overall scores of about 10 percent above last year.”

Ms. Monteith presented two charts, one showing results for tests given to students finishing Year 6 at the end of Key Stage 2 (which covers Years 4 through 6), the other providing the initial scores for GCSE English and math exams.

Perhaps most notable in the Key Stage 2 results was the increase in Level 5 scores. In a recent annual report, the Office of Education Standards suggested that the current target of Level 4 for Year 6 students is insufficient. Year 6 students generally score in the 3- to 5-level range on a scale that goes to 6. The scale is used to assess student performance from Year 1 to Year 9. There are subdivisions of A, B and C within the levels.

“At Year 6, students in Cayman achieving at Level 4A are judged to be achieving at a ‘high’ level where, in fact, this level of achievement is considered to be the ‘expected’ level in the revised English National Curriculum for Year 6 students,” the report says.

It advocates for increasing the level of achievement demanded by Cayman schools.

With the exception of reading, Level 5 scores in English, math and writing increased in 2018 over 2017. The percentage of students achieving that level moved from 12 percent to 22 percent in math, an 83 percent increase. English Level 5 performance was up 40 percent, moving from 10 percent to 14 percent. And writing went from 8 percent to 22 percent, a change of 175 percent.

Level 5 reading achievement dropped from 21 percent to 9 percent. Those achieving a Level 4 score on writing also increased, but only by 13 percent – from 38 percent to 42 percent – while reading scores improved by 25 percent, going from 40 percent to 50 percent.

Math scores were unchanged year-to-year at 40 percent, and English scores ticked up only a single percentage point, from 46 percent to 47 percent.

Still, overall, 65 percent or less of students were achieving the expected level or above. 2018 scores for U.K. students showed that 78 percent met the requirement in English, while 76 percent did so in math. Just 59 percent of Cayman students met the math standard.

For high school graduates, the results were somewhat less encouraging. Ms. Monteith said individual subject tests beyond mathematics and English were not yet available, so it was not possible to provide the percentage of students passing five or more GCSE subjects, including mathematics and English. That score has long been the standard in comparing annual changes.

Ms. Monteith presented scores for both Year 11 and Year 12, with the later scores being cumulative results of 2017 Year 11 scores combined with those who retook the exams after Year 12.

Scores were down for Year 11 students, dropping two percentage points in English (66 to 64) and seven points in Math (45 to 38). The latter decline was a drop of 15 percent.

“I can’t pinpoint why,” Ms. Monteith said regarding the decline. “We really have to analyze the reasons.”

Year 12 scores improved, with 78 percent of students passing the English exam, up from 73 percent the year before, a 7 percent change. Mathematics scores bumped up four points, from 53 percent to 57 percent.

“A full analysis of this year’s results and data will be presented later on,” Ms. Monteith told the crowd, adding in an interview after her speech that the data presented “is pretty close to what will eventually come out.”

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