November 28, 2020

The Editor Speaks: Maths passes amaze

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Colin WilsonwebIt is amazing the revelation that 70% of Cayman Islands students fail the mathematics examinations.

It is amazing that only now, Minister of Education, Rolston Anglin, who has been in the job for 3 ½ years, has said he now wants to tackle the underperformance in mathematics across government primary schools and that this was now a priority area for government.

What has taken him so long?

Why only now with a few months left on his watch has he made this submission?

“While the numbers of Year 12 students graduating with 5 or more high-level passes has grown significantly, and we continue to celebrate this success, the same cannot be said of the numbers achieving a high level pass in maths,” he said. “Since 2006, the percentage of students gaining an A-C grade or Grade I-III in CXC has ranged between 25-29%. This just is not good enough. We need to do better and I believe our students can do better. As a country and an education system, we must embrace the notion that ‘maths counts’, and continue to push for improvements.

“We know mathematical principles and concepts have become a part of almost every area of work and that knowing these principles will help our students succeed in both school and work,” he said. “Yet, historically, this has been an area where too few of our students excel. Our employers tell us this is an area of weakness with applicants for jobs.”

I suppose it is better late than never, but if he believes by announcing at the eleventh hour he is making Cayman’s horrific maths problem a top priority is going to help him with his political ambitions for re-election, I doubt that very much.

I am very uneasy with the statement from “officials” that “although maths in primary schools is a priority this year, many important developments are happening in the high schools, where the ministry wants graduates to have the mathematical and problem-solving skills that will be relevant to employment and continuous education in their futures. “

That sounds like a lot of “mumbo jumbo” to me. Note the word “although” before the words “maths in primary schools”. The rest of the sentence is making my head hurt trying to make sense of what it actually means.

With a Numeracy Specialist, Frank Eade, with over 30 years’ experience, now in the job for nine months and counting, we can only hope that things will improve.

“Mathematics doesn’t just happen in the classroom, it is all around us. I want to see lots of discussion between teachers and students, practical activities, drawings and children using images to get the full experience of mathematics and to truly enjoy it,” Eade said.

I want to see that 70% failure rate change to a 70% pass rate. That’s the only way I will be impressed to amazement.



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