Tue | Jan 22, 2019

Ruel Reid | How PEP works

Published:Sunday | December 9, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Ruel Reid

The following are excerpts from Education Minister Ruel Reid's address at a quarterly press conference on December 6.

Let me clarify this matter that has been the subject of controversy regarding the reporting of the results for the PEP performance task mock assessment that was administered in June 2018. Let me state categorically that the ministry stands by the report based on the analysis that was done of the preliminary results of the performance task in September.

We maintain that the information presented on the combination of the standards met and standards nearly met scores were deliberately done as based on the nature of the performance task and, specifically, the areas that were assessed, both standards are deemed to be satisfactory scores. The objectives from the National Standards Curriculum that were used to develop the performance task represented approximately five per cent of the areas applicable to each subject. It is, therefore, important to note that the performance task will only sample a small percentage of curriculum objectives.

Additionally, the performance task, by itself, will not determine how much of the curriculum a student has achieved. Thus, the need for the various components of the Primary Exit Profile (curriculum-based test and performance task).

The mock PT was pitched at a high level of the depth of knowledge scale - Level three and four, which represent strategic and extended thinking). This was done deliberately to ascertain how the students would respond/attempt the items, primarily for internal and baseline establishing purposes. Based on the purpose of the mock, there was no need to be alarmed, as the data provided were very specific and the tangible information is being used to support those schools that were deemed to need support.

The following points must also be noted:

I was the one who mandated that a mock assessment was to be administered. The mock was administered on one component of the PEP, that is, the performance task (PT), which accounts for 20 per cent of the assessment. The ability test (AT) and the curriculum-based test (CBT) will account for the remaining 30 per cent and 50 per cent. Therefore, it is unreasonable, premature and a knee-jerk reaction to view the June 2018 mock PT as an indication of what will happen when the actual assessments are done in 2019.

It is to be noted that the PT and the CBT are based on content/curriculum material covered in grade six. The same will apply where the PT to be administered in June 2019 to grades four and five students is concerned.

Grade four students will be assessed on what they would have covered at grade four, while grade five students will be assessed on the basis of content covered in grade five.

The ministry and, indeed, other examining bodies have no general practice or tradition of reporting on mock or pilot assessment results and, therefore, there was no need to put this information out to the public.

There were three levels/performance categories in relation to June's mock PT. That is, standard met, standard nearly met and standard not met. It is to be noted, however, that this is NOT the rubric/scoring/reporting scheme that will apply in respect of the actual exams slated for 2019.

The testing and measurement experts determined that those three categories were to be used in assessing the performance of the students. In so doing, the categories 'standard met' and 'standard nearly met' were determined to represent satisfactory/acceptable performance levels. It was always clear that 'standard met' and 'standard nearly met' convey/denote different levels of achievement. The situation is no different when one considers the different class of degrees awarded by a university and the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC). The following discrete classes of awards/achievement, although satisfactory, speak to different levels of achievement: (university degree) first-class honours, upper-second-class honours, lower-second-class honours, pass.

The mock PT is continuing to serve us well in terms of interventions and areas for particular emphasis.

Importantly, this should not be confused with mastery, near mastery and non-mastery used for reporting performance in the Grade Four Literacy and Numeracy Tests. Performance task was not designed to assess students' 'mastery' of content but their application of higher-order thinking skills.

 

APPROACH TO PLACEMENT

 

There is no change to the approach to be used for the placement of students who will complete the PEP in April.

1. The raw score for each subject (mathematics, language arts, science, social studies) will be transformed to a standard score.

2. Each standard score is then totalled to derive a composite score

3. Students are then ranked based on the composite scores

4. The student with Rank #1 is placed first in his 1st school of choice, followed by the student in Rank #2, and so on.

5. This process is done automatically by a computer algorithm.

6. When the algorithm comes to a student on the list, whose first-choice school is 'full', it moves to the student's second school choice and checks for availability. If that school is full, it moves to the third choice, and so on, until a school is assigned.

7. If there is no place available at any of the student's seven school choices, the algorithm searches through the proximity list for availability.

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