Preps On top – Survey says private schools best at GSAT; primaries lagging behind

Students from schools across the island react after receiving GSAT results in previous years. - File Photos

IF A child was born in rural Jamaica and attends a public school, he or she is more likely to be performing below average on the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) than a child living in urban centres and attending private school.

This is the harsh reality a Gleaner-commissioned study compiled by Johnson Survey Research has revealed.

The analysis of the 2013 GSAT results further exposes the disparity in the quality of education that students at the primary level are receiving in public schools compared to private institutions across the island.

The majority of the primary, all-age, and junior-high schools are lagging behind preparatory schools, which are generally populated by students from higher-income households.

Of the top 1,022 institutions that prepared students for the high school entrance exam last school year, only four government-operated schools managed to make it to the top 100, with Retirement Primary in St Ann placing the highest at 49.

The other primary schools to have made the top 100 are Milgrave Primary in St Elizabeth, which came in at 62; Kingston’s Jessie Ripoll – 77; and Kensington Primary in St Catherine at 83.

The privately run Porter Centre for Knowledge in St Andrew was ranked as the best-performing school in GSAT for 2013.

Bill Johnson, head of Johnson Survey Research, said the schools were ranked by adding the average they each received in the five subjects students are required to sit at the GSAT level.

GSAT students are required to sit mathematics, English language, social studies, science (all of which are marked out of 100); and communication task, which is scored out of 12.

The education ministry statistics revealed that 42,268 students sat the exam in March last year and received their results four months later.

Johnson said: “The ministry indicated the average score for each individual school or entity for each of the five subject areas. Johnson Survey Research added the five average scores for each to produce a total score for each. The Gleaner rankings are based on the total scores for each school or other entity.”

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