Ministry of Education comments on the importance of PSE

Standard VI students sat the first half of the Primary School Examination in English and Science earlier this week, addressing specific skills across the school curriculum that they are expected to know at graduation. According to Principal Education Officer for Examinations in the Ministry of Education, Yvonne Davis, examined students saw situations that reflect their lives applied to what they learn in school.

Yvonne Davis – Education Officer:
vlcsnap-2013-03-20-19h50m48s165We know it’s a high stakes exam, and we know that the anxiety level is high.  So we try to look for topics that are familiar to the students, so as not to increase the anxiety level of them trying to figure out something that they are not totally familiar with. So in writing the questions and putting the questions together, we asked the writers to identify topics of interest to the students at the time, and those that are relevant and appropriate at the level. The issue of cellphone has always an issue with the teachers, in terms of how to manage it, the children using cellphones to copy on an exam or in class.  And so we are asking the students to write to us and share with us how they feel about the use of cellphones in school.

The PSE uses a different method of evaluation from its immediate predecessor, the Belize National Selection Examination (BNSE) which directly compared students against each other. The PSE however tests the specific skills learned by students and rates them individually. Davis told PLUS News that the results of the examination, due in the first week of June, are just as important for the Ministry as they are for students.

Yvonne Davis – Education Officer:
At the end of the day, when the students respond to particular questions, or respond to a writing piece, we learn from them how they are being taught in schools.  We learn from them what content areas are addressed at the Primary School level, and how they as students are responding too.  So yes, the students look forward to a score, so they can move on to Secondary, but also the Ministry looks for targets in terms of what outcomes are at Primary School.

Part 2 of the examination takes place on May 6, and will feature both Math papers and Social Studies. Top students will receive prizes and scholarships to high school at national awards scheduled after the results are published.

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