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by Latrishka Thomas

Schoolchildren will have no grades two, four and six national exams this year. Grade six students will instead be placed in public secondary schools based on four “formulas”.

Director of Education Clare Browne said “every school will get somebody from the grade six level at the Antigua Grammar School and the Antigua Girls’ High School – at least one person.”

“Grade six students will be assigned and offered placements in public secondary schools using data gathered at the school level from continuous in-school assessments, particularly classwork, home work, projects and tests,” a ministry press release said.

The four formulas for assigning the 1,451 registered grade six students to a secondary school will take into account where they live, special educational needs, special health and safety circumstances, and performance.

“Outstanding achievers will be offered placements at the Antigua Girls High School, Antigua Grammar School or any other preferred public secondary school,” once there is space under what would have been previously called “the top 100”, the director explained.

“Large schools with 29 or more grade sixers will get to send four girls and four boys to Antigua Girls’ High School [and Antigua Grammar school respectively].

Medium schools with 15 to 28, they will send three and then small schools – those with grade sixers that are 15 and below in number – then they will get one placed at each of those schools,” he said.

Outstanding achievers will be determined by a ranking system based on their performance in term one and mid-term of term two, and that information will be submitted by the school to the Measurement and Evaluation Unit.

The ministry said the decision was not made lightly.

Among many considerations was the fact that “widespread disruptions to traditional classroom instructional time have left syllabuses and school-based projects incomplete and other examination preparations fragmented”.

And despite “gallant efforts to engage students”, unequal levels of accessibility is a challenge.

The ministry is also concerned about the mental and physical wellbeing of students especially “at this juncture of heightened anxiety …and uncertainty brought about by Covid-19, as well as the loss of peer interaction and disrupted routines.”

The grades two and four assessments, which are usually held at the end of May, are merely formative in nature and are administered chiefly for developmental reasons, unlike the grade six exams held in June as a final evaluation.

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