Education plan revealed in face of failing grades

| 08/02/2013

Failing_grade_istock-c.jpg(CNS): The education minister’s announcement on Thursday about the long awaited Strategic Education Plan was tainted by the revelation of school progress test results from an FOI request showing Cayman’s education system still has a long way to go. After almost a decade of reviews, reports, studies, consultations, debates, discussions, documents and plans about improving the system, kids are still leaving school with failing grades. Although there have been improvements in the exam results as children leave the government high school, with half of them leaving this year with five or more passes, the progress tests showed 80% of 11-12 year olds in high school did not meet the minimum expected levels in English and maths.

At Thursday’s press briefing Rolston Anglin berated the local newspaper, the Caymanian Compass, for the way the story was presented, the editorial relating to it, as well as local businessman Woody Foster, who is a member of the local organization that made the FOI request and who described the results as “shocking”.

Anglin said it was unfair of the newspaper to present the results in the way it had and for everyone to think they were education experts. He said these tests were a pilot and new to both staff and students and they were being used as a benchmark for progress and should not be used as a snapshot to measure standards. However, the minister did not deny the accuracy of the results.

The community action group, Literacy is for Everyone, made the FOI request for the results of the tests, which are assessments known as Progress in English and Progress in Maths that were administered to kids aged between six and thirteen across the government system.

The tests revealed some students were as much as four years behind in reading, writing and mathematics and significant numbers of local high school kids fell into the lowest attainment range. Around half of the children graduating from primary school in 2012 had not met the minimum expectations for their age group in English or maths, the results revealed. 

Speaking at Thursday’s press briefingfollowing an earlier briefing at George Town Primary, where the minister had unveiled his five year plan for education less than five months from an election where he could be ousted from office, the minister focused on the bad news.

He said the progress tests were not intended to be used to make sweeping judgements about the government schools, as he pointed to the latest CXC/GCSE results which were the fifth year in a row to see improvements. Those results have leapt from a low of 27% of students passing five of their school leaving exams five years ago to over 49% in 2012.

Continuing to criticise how the figures were published, however, Anglin said the tests were to give parents and teachers an idea of where intervention is required but not measure standards. He did, however, acknowledgethe serious problems with literacy and mathematics among local school children. He said it was not a state secret and there had been many interventions over the years. The publication of the results in this way, he said, was upsetting for parents and children and it did not help in the goal to improve standards.

The ministry, he said, had never shied away from the need to improve teaching practice but he said it had to start at the primary level. Anglin said the authorities know what the community wants.

“We know they want better results and we aim to get them,” he said, but there would be no reactionary change of course for the education plan because of a few comments. The minister said he was confident in his ministerial team, school leaders and teachers. With the greater engagement of parents, he said, things would get even better and the system "will go from good to great" with the new plan.

Cabinet endorsed the plan this week, Anglin said, as he explained his aim of wanting to “bed down a long term vision for education” and develop a system that would allow “transition and to transcend changes in government and politicians.”

He said the plan was borne out of wide consultation and listening to stakeholders, and admitted it was built on work from the previous administration as well. Anglin said the national plan started with the 2009 stabilization plan, which he had said at that time was not a stagnation plan. The plan, he added, also commits the authorities to be accountable for implementing the plan.

“If we continue the work that has been started, we will have world class education system for Cayman,” the minister said. "If we wind up being truly committed to education being the number one priority there are no reasons, given the resources and with teacher and parent support, that we can't get to point where 75% of students leaving school getting at least five level two passes,” he added.

See plan here.

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  1. TCM29 says:

    Sounds like many areas of the US; no amount of money will solve the problem; the only way to get passing grades will be to "dumb down" the curriculum. Don't be surprised when the Asians and Indians eat your lunch.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Since there is no current minimum qualification for being an MLA, can we give the Progress in English and Progress in Maths test to all potential candidates and anyone getting less than 70% will be automatically disqualified?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Is this a new plan, or the same one that Rolston promised to work on when he made the following statement to the LA on 26, August 2009?



    Honourable Third Elected Member for GeorgeTown, a word of advice for you from the Government and people of the Cayman Islands: education reform is not about you; it is about our children. It is about changing what happens in the hearts and minds of our children. This is not an easy task. However, we have substantial evidence regarding what matters most if we are to improve our education system, and this is what my Government and my Ministry will be focusing on—getting the right people to become teachers; developing them into effective instructors; ensuring that the system is able to deliver the best possible instruction for every child.


    Honourable Third Elected Member for George Town, the people of the Cayman Islands in the National Consensus on Education gave you a clear mandate for change. What did you do with that trust? Why don’t you ask the teachers in our system— whose morale is at an all-time low—what grade they would give you? Why don’t you ask the principals how they feel about the fact that they have no say in the decisionmaking in their own schools, even about the staff that are placed there?


    Honourable Members, can you imagine a principal telling me in a room filled with their peers that the gardener/maintenance man at their school could accurately tell them about staffing changes before they even knew!

    Tell us what are the success indicators that you can point to, to show that in the four years you were in office standards of teaching and learning improved?

    Why don’t you explain why examination results have not been published for four years?

    The truth is that my Ministry has much work to do. Drafting regulations for the New Law is just the beginning. There is room and, indeed, a need for passion in relation to education. I too am passionate about the need for improvement; but, in addition to passion, our country and education system need wise decisions, and wise investments, informed by persons with educational expertise and a real commitment to valuing, respecting and developing those persons who make or break any education reform—our teachers and principals.

    In conclusion, I will once again state that I believe the new Education Modernisation Law is an adequate starting point. The Government will bring it into effect as quickly as possible. Consultations will begin in September 2009, now that teachers are back.

    Thank you, Madam Speaker.

  4. Leonardo da Vinci says:

    If only Rolston had carried on the work of his predecessor in applying my theories things would be so much better at this point.

  5. Getagrip says:

    It is hard to improve education when you have as Minister for Education a shameless convicted criminal who refused to tell the truth and explain his actions and who he was with when he was committing his crimes.

  6. Teacher says:

    Here is my simple solution for parents:  Spend more time and pay careful attention to your children. Get them off the video games and television set. Do more practical things with them outside the home. Fathers spend more time with your sons. Mothers don't introduce your girls to cell phones like blackberry phones so they are lost in texting. Do things with them. It doesn't take much. You don't have to chase them with a math and english text book and try to cram it down their throats. Just get them off the gadgets and pay them more attention, and you will see how learning becomes easier and grades improve.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Its shameful and embarrassing.Education is made for humans by humans.It's simple if you understand its concept.Like using your phone.You dont need the manual just the basics first and you learn as you go.Thats my opinion.

    We need to go back a few years before all these "progresses and changes" and look at the previous grades and previous teachers.Find out what happened.

    I note that my son has nothing in his school bag except maybe a worksheet to look up homework on the internet which is "copy and paste".Still? he managed a "5c" which i went crazy on him for-before he told me that it was an excellent grade.>#@% oops time for my apologies

    Since then he has learned well. But myquestion too is "where are the tried and trusted books" that dominated the ORIGINAL government schools 70s-80s?

  8. Castor says:

    Dear God, another plan. How many does this one make?

  9. Iddie Ezard says:

    Education is unnecessary. Protectionism is the ONLY way forward!


  10. Teecha says:

    What we need is more plans. Oh, and reports, don’t forget reports. We need more of those too. Costly ones preferably, no real value need be attached.

  11. Anonymous says:

    While the Minister is ultimately accountable, other's are equally as culpable, Ministers set policy, management execute policy, a closer look need to be taken at the management team in place for education and some serious questions asked.

    • Anonymous says:


      And why dont theymake the public sector's Civil Service Review of the Education Services public?

      Too Embarassing bo-bo!!!!

      Any while the whole bunch jet sets to London/Norway etc, our Teachers Assistants are NOT PAID all summer or during school vacations, yet they serve an integral role in our schools!


      And, students + Parents are still being pressured to 'donate' copy paper while there are still NO TEXTBOOKS in schools for kids to use – only whatever "strategic plan" these Misntry Dodos and their expat Consultants came up with over beakfast that week!

      All to the confusion of teachers, kids and parents!


  12. Tickle My Pickle says:

    Maybe if we get rid of the civil service dumping ground for below standard caymanians and the mentality (or most likely reality) that often in Cayman its not what you know but who you know may somewhat motivate kids to at least go to university in florida

    • Anonymous says:

      And some could even set their tertiary education sights above the fourth tier.

  13. Anonymous says:

    And we wonder why expats get jobs over locals!

    • Anonymous says:

      No, we don't wonder. We know why. Many times it is on account of discrimination. Obviously these statistics have nothing at all to do with qualified Caymanians.  

      • Be Nice says:

        I trust you mean the ones other than the 70% who are mathematically functionally illiterate?  Discriminating against them on account of them not being qualified to hold a job higher than pushing a broom is actually fair ball. 

        Kids: If you want a good job and lots of money from it, fill your heads with higher education, not gangsta rap crap from the USA.

        • Anonymous says:

          Do you understand the words "qualified Caymanians"? It seems you are functionally illiterate.

          • Be Nice says:

            I had said: "…I trust you mean the ones other than the 70% who are mathematically functionally illiterate…", which words perhaps you failed to comprehend (they are big words).  You can claim to be one of the 38% who aren't in the 70% who are mathematically functionally illiterate (little jab there at your education, in case you missed it), but we can tell.

  14. Anondarass says:

    Another “Band-aid” solution that fails to address the gaping wound.
    Putting the “Cart before the horse” will NOT work! Why can’t we learn this?
    The only people “Failing” Caymanian children are their parents!
    Wake-up and stop blaming Politicians, Teachers and everyone else for our indiciplined, arrogant and disrespectful children!
    Do you see the private schools with accademic issues?
    No, because discipline is high at private institutions.
    We have allowed our young people to grow-up like wild animals, with ZERO home guidance. They cannot learn because they do not posses the discipline to learn. They have no respect for authority, teachers or the Laws of our land.
    PARENTS provide no support or interest in their childrens education, rather, we EXPECT teachers to magically impart education into their minds.
    What we sow, we reap.
    Ignorant people justify their problems by comparing others with themselves. That solves nothing.
    Our problems are our own, and we must work towards solutions, not try to justify them.
    Restoring DISCIPLINE in schools (and in general) is the answer.

  15. Anonymous says:

    If Rolston could only count how many drinks he had  . . .

    Next year's exam question:

    The Minister of Education is having a few drinks at the Office.  If there are two units in a beer and four units is the DUI limit, how many units can the Minister have before he drives home?

    1) One

    2) Two and hope the best.

    3) All he wants, because the mystery lady passenger wants a ride somewhere?

    We don't forget and he should have resigned.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Rolston you should now accept that calling the young people who can't get jobs are unemployable and now for 4 years you have created that possibility to greater extent.

    It's unacceptable that you, the Ministry, Chief Officers can allow the principals to get away with such results. If we start firing some of these heads of schools and department, we'll see how quickly the results improve.

    There are no incentives for:

    (1) students since many parents don't have the skills to assist or can't model love for learning:

    (2) parents are not held responsible, yes they are responsible for their children and if they were imprisoned, fined more often many would probably start making education (at least passing, having good attitude so they can learn or be diagnosed fairly) a priority and maybe eventually internalise these values: and

    (3) teachers know politicians will continue to pamper them and excuse their icompetence, lack of interest in having students do well and they can continue to blame parents and their children.

    If the Ministry/Department of Education refuse to hold all three groups responsible the grades will continue to get worse.


  17. Anon says:

    Please Rolston – give it up – the results speak for themselves.

    You have failed – please clear out the office and wait for election results.


    • Annon. says:

      Remember the days when our children actually used and brought home text books and workbooks for reading and math?  Look in your child's classroom and chances are you won't find one.  They were thrown out when inspection crews and higher ups decided that teachers were "becoming slaves to the books".  Now teachers are slaves to the photocopy machines instead. 

      Students used to be able to work in their workbooks at school then take them home occasionally for consolidation purposes…those days are gone.  Text book and reading book are now dirty words and teachers hide them away in the closet for fear of being reprimanded. 

      Teachers do you remember McGraw Hill Reading and Harcourt Math?  Do you remember when you were told to abandon them for something new? Throw them out you were told and no rote-reading.  Now your students can't spell or recognize basic sight words.

      Primary school teachers…do you remember when you were told toabandon "whole class or group instruction".  Tat way of learning is "outdated" students need centers.  What are the end effects of that.  Now instead of a few failing the entire class is struggling.  Try getting a solid Grammar or Phonics lesson in when you are forced to do "centers"

      Do you remember when you were told not to "drill" students with times tables?  Do you remember when you were told not to let them copy notes in those black and white books because it was "pointless"?  Now the students have no notes to study at home when it is time to take their exams.

      Do you remember when PYP came of the scene? oh with its pretty projects (that were mostly done by parents btw). Put them on display and tell about how your child knows all about Egyptians but not one thing about Cayman or the region they live in.  They can tell you about Hinduism though but can they write about it or can they spell or can they add.  PYP looks so pretty but what are the children learning….based on those results…nothing.  But we are soooo proud of little Johnny's pyramid.

      Parents do you remember when your child was given an A B C or a percentage that you could understand?  Now it's leveling 3c or 4a.  What exactly is that?  Do you truly understand it? Be honest.  You don't.  So how can you help your child if you don't know what the hell a 3c means.  To tell you the truth the majority of teachers think this levelling thing is a complete waste of time that stops a parent from understanding their child's progress but guess what…. some pale skin from Europe in a suit and tie thought it was brilliant so Cayman bought into it.  By the way….when you go to university as far as i remember you are still given an A, B, C and a grade point average.

      Do you remember when the people in charge of the Education System were actually people who understood the system and the children in it.  They were teachers who knew what it meant to be a teacher.  Good strong Caribbean….yes i said it CARIBBEAN people who found out for themselves what was going on and didn't rely on some overpaid head honcho who knows not one thing about what goes on in these schools or classrooms.  We had less funds but our children were doing BETTER.  We did things the Caribbean way and the students learned what they were supposed to in the best way they could. Students had BOOKS and they were INSTRUCTED and they were made to WRITE and to READ and to SPELL and to work problems in a way they could understand. Now government spends thousands of dollars for this Math man to come in and tell teachers that the way they are teaching in wrong…every time we have an election a new "strategy" is employed and the children and teachers are made to suffer.

      Teachers…do you remember when you marked your register manually?  it took all of 2 minutes.  Now you have SIMS….ah and bless your hearts if the system isn't up.  you spend an hour trying to get on and if you don't mark your register you get told off and you're frustrated for the entire morning when you should be at your best working with your students.  Note to the incoming Min of Ed  GET RID OF THIS SIMS FOOLISHNESS.  It's a complete waste of time that should be spent teaching students.

      Im going to pray tonight for a Min of Ed that listens and takes action.  One that isn't afraid to do what is best for the children of these islands.  One that doesn't need a team of know it alls to tell him/her something that should be common sense.  One that isn't ashamed to try a method/curriculum/strategy that is Caribbean or unique to the Cayman Islands.  One that realizes that sometimes the people who say they know what's best for our Caymanian children don't even have a clue what it means to live here muchless learn here. One that realizes that there are good teachers out there that know what is going on but feel abandoned or shunned because they disagree with the high paid "experts" "consultants" One that realizes that there are some bad teachers as well who are here on vacation until they can afford their home in Spain.  One that isn't ashamed to be Caymanian and to accept that just because a learning strategy works in England DOES NOT MEAN IT IS GOING TO WORK IN CAYMAN. 

      One that will allow our Principals to run their schools and not dictate to them what they should or should not do by SSIOs of Chiefs…too many chiefsand experts that would not last a minute in one of these class rooms. If these experts want to help then get them in the classrooms teaching for a month or so…come out of those offices and go ahead and teach.

       Let our Principals do their jobs they are there every day and know what is best for our students.  Our children need to get back to basics.  They need textbooks and workbooks.  They need to do some WORK. Parents won't mind paying the book fee if it means they will have a book that they can sit down with their child at night and go over.  Books that will explain to the child what to do if the parent is unable to assist.

      Trust your PRINCIPALS and cut down on all this PAPERWORK.  Teachers are tired and frustrated because they spend so much time doing paperwok.  How are they supposed to teach if they are overstressed?!! Teachers spend hours upon hours on paperwork that sits in a file somewhere collecting dust.  They are made to feel like slaves…yes i said it slaves every time a so called "expert" arrives looking down on them with not even the manners to say a simple Good Morning. Like the massa in slavery days, you see the teachers fretting and running around all nervous, hiding the textbooks theygave the children to study from.  That is not right!

      I want a minister that will stand up for our children and recognize that Cayman and the Caribbean has produced some of the brightest lawyers, doctors, accountants, teachers, parents, businesspeople etc .  Our children have so much potential but as a minister you have to have some balls and stand up and find out what's going on.  Use your common sense!  And another thing before i go.  Get rid of this damn ABACUS EVOLVE.  It does not match up with our students' ages and it give no examples of how to work problems.  Now imagine if you're a parent at home trying to help your child…..come on now Mr Minister.

      Mr Anglin.  You need to call an emergency meeting with your educators asap.  Let them tell you what is really going on.  The shit is about to hit the fan in more ways than one because you also have a severe discipline problem in the high schools and you are going to lose a lot of GOOD teachers.  YOU need to do it not your "team" or your "experts".  Teachers have developed an inferiority complex with these "experts" and it is getting worse.  Call an emergency meeting and LET THE TRUTH BE TOLD.  Ps a lot of your expat teachers are afraid to speak up because they are afraid of losing their jobs but if you don't know the truth then education in Cayman will always be a huge mess.

      Parents, at the high school and primary school level.  Insist that your child's teacher talks to you in percentages and not this levelling foolishness.  Ask to see test, quiz results.  You know you don't understand levels so don't feel foolish because it is your child's future. The private schools use As, Bs etc and percentages and so do colleges where most of you would like your child to end up.  Insist on textbooks and workbooks in the schools 2013-2014 school year.  Allow the principals teachers to select and appropriate set and put them to use in allsubject areas.  Government can afford it…Christ all they have to do is not pay Clifton Hunter's light bill for one month and we can pay for a year's worth of books.

      Let's start a new movement called SAVE OUR CHILDREN

      Thanks for reading. 







      • Anonymous says:

        Pathetic.  Why are Caymanians so special and different they need a tailor made curriculum?

        • Anonymous says:

          Tailor made? Ummmm, the current curriculum was plagarised from the UK by those British people in the system who think that the UK system is the best. But those of us who read OECD reports know better.

          • Anonymous says:

            Cayman can only dream of having an education system of the standards of the UK.  The awful system is the price paid for not paying income tax.

      • Anonymous says:

        When were text books thrown out in primary schools? Maybe 5 years ago? How does that explain the secondary scores in English and Maths that are at the bottom of the barrel. Those students were taught with the textbooks. Deeper issues than text books my dear.

    • Save Our Children says:

      ….and please stop going on about this three or more passes like it's something to celebrate.  In Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean  the students sometimes do and pass 7 or more.  If you don't believe me ask any teacher that has taught in high school over there. If you're a Jamaican kid and you tell someone you got four passes they look at you like you didnt work hard enough in school.  It's a joke.  So stop decorating shit to make it look nice. Failing is failing. Throwing money and fancy programs like PYP and IB at education is not the solution. You need to learn from those poor children in the region who work in rooms without airconditioning and without all this technology but look who's in front of them.  Strict teachers who make them work not ones who are afraid to even raise their voices for fear of getting fired.  They end up passing their subjects.  You ever wonder why the majority of students who are brought over here by their parents from Jamaica automatically shoot right to the top of their classes here? Again if you think I'm lying just ask the Primary school teachers.  They come here and they are waaaay ahead. Then they see what we have to offer and get complacent.  No discipline, no real work, no homework, no one telling them that they can't go home until they finish their work. 

      I heard that Trinidad is looking to bring back some for of corporal punishment and that Barbados…well students in Barbados are producing results in high school that make ours look like preschoolers. Once again another structured STRICT education system with work. Students who are taught to take pride in themselves and the work they put out.  High school here is a festering mess.  The bad language, the cell phones, the fighting, students hitting teachers or cursing them and telling them they're not doing the work.  How can our teachers teach in such an environment.  It is abuse.

      They removed the strap.  I'm not saying that Principals should abuse children physcally in a brash way but those who went to school in Cayman years ago when quality students were graduating from high school will tell you that the strap saved a lot of people from Northward. A little rod of correction never hurt anyone. Just ask some of our community pilars today that successfully run businesses or who are doctors, lawyers, construction workers, engineers, good parents and role models… At least back then the unruly students had something to fear.  Now they don't fear anything and because they don't fear anything why should they work, why should they be respectful, why should they sit in class and do anything when they know that nothing will happen to them?

      Well guess what?  My child who wants to learn has a right to be in an environment that is one of learning.  He has a right to sit through a full lesson of Science without 'Tommy" cursing and throwing a book at the teacher and the teacher having to send the entire class outside because Tommy is turning it into a zoo.  My child has right to walk down the corridor without having to hear f words and see children carrying on like they are in some sort of club.  My child has a right to learn and to be challenged.  Since entering high school I've noticed a change in his attitude.  He is not applying himself and i am seriously worried.  I sometimes wonder if other parents are going through what I'm going through.  I worry about my child and his future.  He wasn't bringing home homework and when i complained about it the teacher sent home homework with work that hadn't been taught yet which frustrated my child even more.   The next time my child brings home another pointless project that i have to do I'm sending it back to the teacher!  What happened to reading writing and arithmatic?

      People go on about private school but private school in Cayman costs a small fortune.  We need more reasonably priced private schools here.  Some private schools in Cayman are doing well but there are better ones in the region that are a lot cheaper but where does that leave me?  I can't afford to send my child when my family and i are barely able to make ends meet.  But we may have to because i don't want him to grow up and experience the struggle that we are going through because things in Cayman are not getting any easier.

      I hear several people talking about a conspiracy. Destabalize the education system. A conspiracy to create a generation of slow inept Caymanian students who can easily be replaced by foreign labor.  It sounds crazy but I'm beginning to believe it is an inadvertent conspiracy.  I think come elections whoever inherits this mess needs to START OVER and maybe they will have a chance to get it right. 

      • Anonymous says:

        If you go private you don't get Tommies and their ilk.  It really is such a super system.

  18. Beachboi says:

    Rolston spewed so much crap at this briefing that I am surprised that he didnt choke on the flies!!  "bed down a long term vision"!!!!  Who cares who or "what" you bed down but the education of the youth in the Cayman Islands has failed miserably, and for you to use a cliche like "bed down" is such a perfect example of how seriously yout take this situation.  You might have at least feined a little tact.  You might as well have said "dis is wha I wonh do"!!  Rolston this is 2012 and not 1962 which is when I went to primary school in Cayman.  You are a failure and should hide your face!  And you say NOW is the time for a 5 year plan to get a 75% passing rate for graduates????  YOU and the other *** holes in government would take every chance to turn Caymanians against expats when in fact it is your fault that the youth of Cayman are not prepared for entry into the real world where entitlement does not pay bills.  You disgust me!  And I wont take up any more space to speak of what you have done to the teachers that tried and are still trying to do their jobs with no support from YOU!!!


    CNS I tried to go to the website to get a curriculum for the students in middle and high school but I am not sure that is the place to look.  Can you tell me where I can find this info?


    CNS: Here – National Curriculum

    • Anonymous says:

      Is Minister Anglin's own children in this messed up system or in private schooling? Therein lies the answer to his faith in his own system!