Academics may form part of future graduation

| 25/01/2010

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman local news, Cayman Education graduation criteria(CNS): As government reassess the criteria for graduation after high school, the education minister has said that academic results could form part of the new minimum standards for students to be involved in the ceremony, though they have not indicated what that standard might be. Year 12 students graduating from John Gray High School and the Cayman Brac High School in 2010 will participate in the annual graduation exercise as usual during the month of June, provided they meet the current graduation criteria, which up until now has only considered effort, behaviour and attendance.

The graduation criteria has long been a controversial issue with some parents believing that academic achievement should form part of the consideration, while others believe it is unfair to marginalise children who have worked hard and attended school but have not been able to pass exams.

Rolston Anglin has said that new graduation criteria will be coming into effect for all government secondary students, including the current Year 11 students, who still have one further year of compulsory education.

"In addition to the current criteria which focus on effort, behaviour and attendance, the addition of academic criteria and community service requirements are being considered, subject to consultation with parents, students, education professionals and the wider community," Anglin said adding that adequate lead time would be provided before the changes are made.

Chief Education Officer Shirley Wahler said the review of graduation criteria is both needed and very timely in light of the restructuring of the secondary education system.

Part of that restructuring is the new compulsory Year 12 after students have sat their external examinations, which will now be taken in Year 11 as they are in the UK. The mandatory year 12 programme offers students a number of choices from re-sitting the papers they may have failed, to taking specific vocational courses.

According to the education minister, a range of learning opportunities  are being developed that will, for the first time,  address gaps in the education system that have been identified by educators, parents and employers and students.

"Our goal with the Year 12 programme is to better prepare students of all abilities to continue and enhance their education, to be employable, and to be productive responsible citizens of our society," Anglin stated. "For some of our children this will mean providing second chances to succeed with their external examinations, for others it will mean academic programmes which provide higher levels of challenge. For others it will mean new opportunities in technical and vocational subjects. For all our children it must mean better career assessment, guidance and counselling."

Year 12 students will be based at the present George Hicks Campus where they can study for CXC/GCSE re-sits, take additional subjects, a foundation studies programme of one-year CXC and GCSE courses or functional literacy and numeracy programmes. The Year 12 programme will also offer technical and vocational programmes which will be complementary to the current UCCI certificate courses such as Motor Vehicle Studies, Business, IT, Sport and Fitness, and Health and Social Care. 

The Cayman Islands Diploma Programme will allow students to prepare for university entry while studying for the Advanced Placement International Diploma. Entry to this programme will require the minimum of five higher passes at CXC/GCSE including English and Mathematics.

Students may still choose to study ‘A’ levels at the private schools, or the Associate Degree at UCCI.

It is anticipated that most students will also undertake at least one day per week of work or community service placements, part of the emphasis on preparing students for the next stage in their lives. The ministry said that underpinning all of the new programmes will be a robust new Careers Service which the ministry says will mean more specialist careers staff will be employed in addition to existing staff in careers liaison roles.

Anglin said a range of consultation meetings with secondary parents and students will begin over the next two weeks, along with meetings with other key stakeholder groups.

"I encourage everyone to participate, to get informed and to share your views. These are exciting and important changes to our educational system, which have the potential to improve our students’ learning and ultimately their life chances," he added.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I join with those who believe that there must be a standard for graduation, and it must involve some form of academic achievement. Students must understand from as early as possible, that you must work hard and strive to achieve.  We will need to carefully consider how to do it and what support we will have in place for Special Needs students, but there must be a standard.  They must be prepared for the real world, and not be fooled into a system where efforts are not counted.  I share similar sentiments with the writer who expressed his/her amazement at the emphasis some parents place on graduation; parents who are missing in action throughout the six years or more of their children’s school life.  Unbelievably, there are parents who have never attended a single PTA meeting, but are present and on-time for graduation meetings.  Significant value must be placed on student achievement throughout their school life.  This should be equal to or even greater than the value placed on graduation.  Graduation should be seen as the reward for a job well done.  If students are aware of the need to work hard to meet graduation requirements which are inline with work place expectations, then they are more likely to work harder and acheive more.  It is not until then that Cayman can expect to have more graduates who are employable.  I must also commend the new administration for focussing on the real issues of education facing the country.  I challenge them to ensure that there goals and aspirations for education are being fostered by other management officials within the system and that in the end, the true outcomes of teaching and learning can be achieved.  I am wholeheartedly encouraged to hear the Minister say that "teachers are very important to the system".  In that light, they should be treated with respect; they should be motivated and feel valued in the system.  Now that the dark and gloom of the futuristic transformers are in the past, let us hope and pray that we will now see a "brighter future".

  2. Common Sense says:

    It is shameful that these students get this far and treated so poorly.  The system fails at the very youngest level.  It is time to bring in GOOD teachers, set testing goals, reward the teachers would can teach (**give them a fast track to STATUS same as nurses I think) and fire the teachers who cannot.  If we set the world’s standard for teaching…**What, a whopping 8000 students? 400 world class teachers could turn this island around within a decade.  Pay the teachers better than North America and we can get some talent down here and start to teach our children properly.

  3. anonymous says:

    I am not surprised that Caymanians have such a bad reputation in the workplace with no basic standards to achieve to graduate. Shame on everyone who allowed/allows this to continue. It is a ridiculous situation and one which ensures a continuing divide between Caymanians and Expats. This will only encourage the Expats to consider themselves truly superior in every way.

    Politicians who interfere – get on with running the country better! Let the teachers and administrators get on with producing better students and those that fail….. well they will just have to try harder and take the exams again with an attitude that they HAVE TO PASS. I expect you will see an increase in performance by all if basic academic standards were mandatory for graduation. 

    Some suggest a college for technical education is a necessary solution – wake up! Even a mechanic needs basic reading, writing and math skills. What’s the point of teaching young people to type faster if their lack of grammatical and spelling skills reveal them to be uneducated fools?

    Why continue this farce called ‘graduation’ if there are no standards? Its a crippling insult to all those students who worked hard and achieved  exam passes to be proud of to have to walk the same stage and get the same certificate as those that merely ‘attended’ school.

    What a sorry state of affairs this is. One to join the many others that must be corrected if this country is to survive let alone thrive in this competitive global environment.

    WAKE UP!

  4. Richard Wadd says:

     "Oh no, we can’t give jobs to Qualified Expats, when we have so many unemployed young Caymanians ……"

    Perhaps that should read "UNEMPLOYABLE……."

    This is why our young Caymanians are such a sorry lot, they have not learned the discipline necessary to achieve, they expect to be rewarded for less than mediocrity, and minimum attendance and effort is what they present at the workplace ….. gee, I wonder where they learned THAT lesson?

    • Anonymous says:

      To:   "Oh no, we can’t give jobs

      When you are making statements like  you did, please use commonsense and don’t class everyone in the same bracket –  there are many, many smart intelligent young Caymanians and adults alike who keep their jobs and are employed with some of the largest firms and do as well as anyone else in the world  including yourself!  We have worked overtime without pay, worked for 30-40 years keeping every rule in the book, taking no sick leave for 15 years, no absent days and hardly any vacation, so don’t make us look like we are fools! Do your research before commenting!  Check your own land before giving negative comments to another persons homeland and see if you can improve on your own situation where-ever that is.    

  5. It is about time says:

    Good move!!  I recall a number of  years  ago when I was a member of the John Gray High School and The George Hicks Middle School  Parents Teachers Association I was amazed at the number of parents who never bothered to show up to these meetings, nor reporting sessions, but those same ones were there bright and early for graduation, with their camerasblinding everyone with flash!! They would literally fight you for a seat as close to the podium as possible.  Now I have no probems with parents being interested in graduation, of course they should be, but if they were as interested in their children’s education and supported the schools we would now have a much more educated group of youngsters. I personally involved myself in my children’s education both on island and when they went off to university and now each one is holding their place in this society with great careers. Students should not be allowed to waste away their time at school, get crappy grades then strut accross the stage like a peacock to receive a school leaving certificate that says they attended school for x no. of years.  Parents should monitor the students’ progress by attending reporting sessions ,expecially, and getting feed back on their students. Parents  please  do your part then hold your students and their teachers accountable .  This country needs educated persons, educated and qualified if we are to ever be able stand on our own. Minister Anglin this is a good start!! It should have been done earlier, but as the saying goes"Better late that never"

  6. Anonymous says:

    Some of the above comments are unfair to the Education Department. This talk has been around for years – it is the parents that really have prevented graduation by academic criteria.

    Have you EVER heard the fuss, the real threats, the involvement of very senior politicians  against Principals, Education Officers and so on when some student or other is told they are NOT going to walk the stage beacuse of their behaviour and lack of work.  There has been interference at every level which was actually only reduced when Alden said that he, quite rightly, would REFUSE to get involved.  He was the first one to really take a stand.  Good on him! That did not stop others both on Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac!  Talk  about pressure.  That pressure includes many members of the present UDP.  

    I for one am really pleased that thsi announcement has been made.  Good luck. 

  7. Jingo Jango says:

    Absolutely astounding. 

  8. Anonymous says:

    It is no wonder that expats take us for fools!!!!

    This system should have been in place long time. If some kids are not academically inclined, then there needs to be a technical school where they can be sent to learn carpentry, electrical and plumbing. There is also a need for Caymanian nail technicians and hair stylists.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Rollie is upsetting Alden’s master "re-development" plan that didn’t even factor this in. With Alden’s focus on new buildings it’s not surprising that issues like this were ignored.


    Polictics of the last decade…

    -The problem came from Afghanistan, sir.

    -OK, let’s attack Iraq.

  10. Anonymous says:

    > others believe it is unfair to marginalise children who have worked hard and > attended school but have not been able to pass exams.


    So pupils can graduate with an ‘A’ for effort and an ‘F’ on exams.

    And this makes sense how????????????????????????????

  11. Dr Degrees says:

    My Cat Could Take a Cayman Islands’ High School Diploma

    "…the education minister has said that academic results could form part of the new minimum standards…"

    You’re joking, right?  Cayman is currently "graduating" students who have not met any academic standards?  If not, then on what basis are you graduating them? 

    What will happen if, say, they maybe want to try to go to university, or perhaps get a job requiring basic skills in any of math, chemistry, biology, physics, the social sciences or… wait for it… English?  How will they compete against the graduates who have mastered those skills?

    Does it not also detract from the accomplishment of graduates who have mastered the basic skill set generally required in the world for graduation if "graduating high school in the Cayman Islands" is globally accepted as meaning the student has achieved no measurable or measured level of education whatsoever? 

    I now see why employers are sceptical of the standards of education of Caymanians – there are no standards.  On the present system, my cat could take a Cayman Islands’ high school diploma simply by being carried to school every day for 3 years.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ooops! Chemistry?  Biology?  Physics?  Non-existent!  They don’t do that anymore.  I guess Cayman won’t have anyone entering the field of medicine for a very, very, long time!

      CNS: Wrong. If you read the National Curriculum documents you will find that these subjects are studied within the science curriculum. After Key stage 3 (Year 9) students choose the subjects they want to study for external exams – CXC, GCSE, etc. I don’t know about JGHS without checking, but at Cayman Brac high school (which has less than 200 enrolment total), students are able to take Biology, Physics and Chemistry as well as General Science CXC exams.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sure, your cat qualifies!  Especially since at the middle school, students are now graded in levels.  No longer can parents understand where their children are at.  There are no more percentages, no more letter grades (A, B, C, D, E).

      CNS: It’s quite easy. Level 2 is higher than Level 1, Level 3 is higher than Level 2 ……….. Level 8 is higher than Level 7. Grades are entirely arbitrary and percentages do not necessarily indicate how hard/easy the test was, but with the new system you can see exactly what your child has learnt in order to reach that level by referring to the National Curriculum (click here to download the National Curriculum documents) or by asking your child’s teacher.

      So whereas before, a cat could have achieved an "A" grade because as far as you knew it could have been based on his/her ability to fall asleep in the sun, now the criteria is set out and, with just a little effort, you have a much better idea of where your child is at academically.

      This applies to Key stages 1,2 &3 – up to the end of Year 9.

  12. Anon says:

    You still need a vocational college/technical college here teaching the various disciplines for which work permits are frequently granted here so that young Caymanians have a chance to get work without having to travel abroad to achieve the required qualification set. A business and secretarial college teaching speeds and high accuracy in excess of 60 wpm would be a guaranteed winner.  Your current college courses only teach to up to 40 wpm which doesn’t cut it in the world of work here or anywhere.

  13. Anonymous1 says:

    I was quite shocked when I found out that children weren’t held back when they didn’t pass exams.  I don’t care how old you are when you graduate you shouldn’t get a diploma unless you pass your exams.  I went to school in the US and a guy in my class was much older than everyone else but he was so proud that he had finally passed his exams and could graduate. 

    You don’t need to consult anyone Rollie.  Implement it immediately. 

  14. Pro Bono Consulting Services says:

    Next step now is to use the mary Miller Hal, free of charge, for the ceremony (if there really still needs to be one), numbers should be way down so everyone should be able to fit no problem!

    • Anonymous says:

      If we make it easy, with say 5 grade c or better passes in real primary subjects the criteria,  I can make my Boardroom available for the ceremony.

  15. CSI says:

    So, let me get this straight.  The suggestion is that students must make some form of academic achievement to graduate high school?  Came up with that all by yourself did you Rollie?  And we wonder why employers continue to complain that high school "graduates" don’t have the basic literacy and numeracy skills to function effectively in the workplace.  All those parents who stand up and cheer when their son or daughter walks across the stage, give your head a shake.  Until they accomplish something academically, the graduation carries no meaning.  It’s little more than a glorified attendance certificate.  Would we accept the same standard of somebody who had good "…effort, behaviour, and attendance…" at medical school, engineering school, law school, or any number of other disciplines?  Cayman’s education system needs to stop striving for mediocrity.  Time to actually learn and accomplish something.

    • Anonymous says:

      Excellent points!

      Is Cayman the only place on earth where you can get a high school diploma for just showing up?  This is unbelievable!  Next time I get a resume from a Caymanian with only a high school diploma, I will be throwing it in the garbage were it belongs.

      Caymanian parents need to stick up for their children and demand that academics play an important part of obtaining a high school diploma.  You are only hurting the future of your children by not doing so.

      • Barret says:

         No your Country is the place where you get a high school diploma that says bad grades on it.  What your darn Country also need to do is to educate your Children more by telling them to have more morals and respect when you come into "ANOTHER MANS COUNTRY TO TELL THEM WHAT TO DO."   You yourself are setting a bad example for your Children…do this first before making judgement on other peoples character.

        • Anonymous says:

          They can even get the certififate for barely showing up .  Even if they have several criminal cases pending!  Check out the Alternative Education Centre (A.E.C.) and see the record of those they have graduated!

      • Anonymous2 says:

        9:24  Not every Caymanian that only has a diploma has failed school.  You have to check on their CXC exams first.  If they passed those then they have earned that diploma. 

        My son is a straight "A" student who reads and writes over his level.  This is based on external exams.  I would hope that you would not throw away his resume but if you did, that’s your lose.

    • CaymanLover says:

      For the record, many medical schools (including St Matthews), law schools (NOT CILS) and others grade on a sliding scale.  For example, if the highest grade achieved on a test is only a 40 out of 100, that grade is given and A and the rest accordingly.  ICCI did that when I was there (at least in Macro and Micro Econ).  I have never agreed with this, but just pointing out its not so far removed as you may think.

      Its about time this was done.  There were many people who graduated in my CIHS class who had sub-standard reading, writing etc.  Some have since been diagnosed as dyslexic or with other learning difficulties which were not even looked into by the schools.  The fact is, if you gave no trouble, sat quietly and blended in you could slide ride through school. 

      Perhaps the fear of being left back might scare students into applying themselves, motivate parents to take more active interest in their child’s education and pose an incentive to teachers to work harder and identify students with possible special needs (for fear or having that same student back in your class again next year!).

      As a post-script I would like to add that I believe our country needs to also make it easier for disabled children to access education and employment.  I know of one particular young lady who recently graduated from John Gray.  She is quite seriously physically disabled and requires a specially fitted desk, chair and computer.  She had applied to several employers (in response to their ads offering employment) but she never makes it past the first interview and is told the employer cannot accommodate her physical needs.  She is bright, ambitious and very intelligent and wants to continue her education.  My fear is she and others will fall by the wayside because they arent given the opportunity to grow.

      Before you all start ranting that I cant expect an employer to pay for special fittings for one employee – she has a right to pursue education and employment AND imagine if she were your child?

      • Anonymous3 says:

        9:33  Grading on a scale is different than not passing at all.  My final exam in the US was graded on a scale.  However, my real grade was a "B" and my graded scale gave me an "A".  I didn’t fail and get an "A".

  16. Anonymous says:

    Excellent idea.

     the present system of going to school and graduating without having to pass an exam is like turning up for work and not doing any work.

    • CSI says:

      Exactly!  And when the education problem is fixed, then maybe they can start to tackle this much bigger problem.

      • Uncivil Servant says:

        The good news is that by the time they get around to figuring that out, I’ll be long since retired!

  17. Richard Wadd says:

     DOH !!

  18. anonymous says:

     What a novel idea!  Would like to see the committee that came up with that one.