Local kids break exam records

| 16/10/2013

(CNS): The education ministry has now confirmed that this year’s external exam results for local students have broken all previous records, with almost 70% of Year 12 students from government schools achieving high level passes in at least five subjects. Far outstripping even last year’s record results, Chief Education Officer Shirley Wahler said 69.5% of Year 12 students leaving the government system achieved five or more Level 2 (O’ Level equivalent) passes at A*-C at GCSE/IGCSE or I-III at CXC, compared with 49% last year and 29% just five years ago. This means 267 students achieved the required standard compared to just 88 in 2007, a growth of 200% in just five years.

More than 67% of all Year 12 students achieved a Level 2 pass in English, which compares well with regional result of about 57% of students across the Caribbean. Mathematics grades have also improved over last year’s 26%, but with only 37.5% of students reaching the high level pass mark it remains an area of concern for educators.

As well as the hard work of teachers and the support of parents, Education Minister Tara Rivers also credited the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre (CIFEC) for the boost in results. All Year 12 students on Grand Cayman who remain in the government system now attend CIFEC, which was established three years ago in September 2010, when the high school system on Grand Cayman was reorganised. Students now take their Level 2 exams at the end of Year 11, using Year 12 to take vocational courses, retakes or join the duel entry programme with UCCI to take pre-college courses. 

This summer was the first time that Year 11 students on Cayman Brac took their external examinations, sitting them at the same time as the Year 12 students, and those students (the Layman Scott High School graduating Class of 2014) have already achieved a 69% high level pass rate. This figure is predicted to be 80% by the time that these students graduate next year as the first year group on the Brac to be taught within the restructured Year 12. This would make them the highest achieving class in the history of the Cayman Islands, parents and teachers of the students were told  by CEO Wahler at a recent meeting on the Brac.

However, for the first time this year, the Year 12 students on Grand Cayman slightly bettered their peers on the Brac, where 66.7% of the school's Graduating Class of 2013, who did not have the benefit of optional re-takes like the Year 12's at CIFEC, achieved 5 or more high level passes, bucking the trend of significantly better results on Cayman Brac in previous years.

Outlining the improvements in results overall, Minister Rivers told the Legislative Assembly this week, “Of the 267 students who met the benchmark standard of 5+ passes, 110 of those met that standard because of their additional studies at CIFEC, with 119 additional Level 2 qualifications being earned in maths and English.” 

CIFEC also helped students in technical and vocational studies, with 200 students earning an internationally recognized vocational pass, and the minister welcomed CIFEC’s emphasis on incorporating work place readiness, allowing all students to undertake a formal study of employability skills. 

With the record breaking results, Shirley Wahler said the community needed to recognize that the work of teachers is often difficult and undervalued but the results were a testimony to the hard work that has gone into improving the education system. Chief Officer Mary Rodrigues pointed to the raising of expectations among both students and parents.

See the minister’s full statement about the results delivered in the LA on Monday.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    A manditory training school would be wonderful for Cayman

    and if you dont like it no welfare.

    Students would be paid

    That means when you leave the/a  school you have a job. Thats how you graduate.

    Notice how I did not say No help from govt for employed people because lets face it sometimes everyone needs a little help.

    And if you do become unemployed you could work at the training school. 

  2. Anonymous says:

    Congrats to the Students, Teachers, Parents and anyone that may have contributed to the great results.

    This shows that hard work does pay off sometimes it maybe late in coming but through dedication and faith it can be done.

    Keep up it!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    While this is an increase over last years results, it still is not something to rejoice about. 5 CXClevel passes are very mediocre in comparison to the students' other Caribbean counterparts. They should be aiming for no less than 8 passes and high passes not Grade"C". Agree with 11:18 and 15:57. More schoolwork, less parties and fraternizing with other kids.

    • Anonymous says:

      Those comments reflect your own ignorance. At least 5 GCSE/CXC passes at A*-C Grade is an international metric to measure the performance of the cohort as a whole and provides a basis for comparison with the performance of  previous years and with cohorts in other countries. Cayman has actually outperformed the UK this year with its 69.5% pass rate as opposed to the UK's 68.1%:


      • Anonymous says:

        Anyone can get a "C" just for turning up.

        • Anonymous says:

          Don't be ridiculous. If that were true we would be getting close to 100% with A*-C Grades and so would every other country including the UK where only 68.1% got A*-C Grades for 5 or more subjects. 

          • Anonymous says:

            Can we just clarify that the UK figure includes L2Maths and English, whilst the Cayman data does not and is for five passes of anything.  It might also be useful to look at the performance of each school relative to the other.  I believe that CIFEC's score was almost double that of John Gray, for example and that scores at John Gray, Clifton Hunter and Layman Scott all actually went down last year.  I do  not believe that CIFEC has been given the credit it deserves, as it alone was responsible for this big jump.  Students there have overachieved and this is due to the hard work that goes on there and the inspirational teaching.

          • Anonymous says:

            That article about the UK said nothing about 5 or more subjects. That was Cayman's measuring stick. The 68.1% for the UK could be for 8 subjects which would make Cayman's 69.whatever % even less impressive. It's an improvement but far strides to go.

            • Anonymous says:

              Why can't you understand that this is an international metric? Stop writing nonsense. See if this is any clearer for you:

              A major slump in the GCSE pass rate is revealed today with the percentage of pupils getting five top grade A* to C passes suffering its biggest fall in the history of the exam.

              More than 600,000 teenagers received their results this morning, as figures showed the pass rate had fallen by 1.3 percentage points to 68.1 per cent.


              • Anonymous says:

                The reason that they are described as "top grades" is that the UK GCSE is an amalgam of two earlier examination systems, the GCE "O" level (historically taken mainly by grammar & private school entrants) and the CSE system (historically taken mainly by Secondary Modern pupils), with the lowest grade "O" level being equivalent to a top grade CSE. In the GCSE system, the A*-C grades are regarded as the equivalent of the old "O" level grades 1-6 and the lower grades are equivalent to the CSE.

                In the UK you cannot get any non-manual national or local Government job without having at least a C grade in both English and Maths (increasingly, this standard is being adopted by private companies as well).

                As the linked article shows – a year can make a major difference, so exams taken in year 12 (i.e. age 17) cannot really be compared with exams taken in year 11 (or even year 10)

                • Anonymous says:

                  What was your point?

                  • Anonymous says:

                    Anyone can get a "C" just for turning up.

                    • Anonymous says:

                      Don't be ridiculous. If that were true we would be getting close to 100% with A*-C Grades and so would every other country including the UK where only 68.1% got A*-C Grades for 5 or more subjects.

      • Anonymous says:

        When I was at school – all be it quite a while ago now, I got 11 GCSEs, 2 A, 6B, 3C. SO what is the big deal about at least 5. In my opinion, they should be getting at least 9 A-C grades to be able to start raving about it.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yes, and I got 3 A's 5Bs and 1 C. That's not the point. Did you read any of the post or the link? Having that metric obviously does not mean that no one got 8, 9 or 11 passes.

    • Anonymous says:

      As a past student of the Cayman Islands school system and a UK University graduate, I can tell you that 08:57 is speaking the truth. 5 passes at A*-C or 1-3 level is just medicore. It's good enough to get into local school programmes, A-Levels and UCCI, but when you travel overseas to Universities with other students who have sat these exams you're looking at 9-12 passes each, all at higher levels. I myself had 8 higher level passes, and 1 lower level pass. That's 9 external passes.

      How can our students compete with the international market if we're only glorifying 5 passes?

      Yes, according to the article we might have outperformed the AVERAGE passes but what about those students who do continue onto tertiary, who are competeing with those ABOVE AVERAGE. We cannot just sit and accept average grades for our children. My mother never did for me and neither did I for myslef and when I went over to University I could stand among tall among those who has achieved great success in academics.

      Our students need to realise that when they think about the international market they are thinking of students who are working for more than what our local ideals are. They are competing for placements from students around the world with much more academic qualifications than we are giving our students.

      No where else is the world will you find students just out of high school with no professional training or tertiary level of education becoming a teller in a bank or working in HR. People start from the bottom, they waitress, bus tables, work in recption, hotels and they learn, they grow to manage, own and develop their own brands.

      Caymanians need to stop feeling entitled and expecting others, especially government, to do everything for them while not putting any effort in themselves.

      I will forever stand by the fact that 5 passes is not enough and our student deserve to have better demanded of them and only then will they begin to deliver.

      I will also like to point out that even when I was in school, most students who achieved higher level passes were of expat descent, because many of them realise why it is their parents or grandparents came to this country and some recognise that they would not be given handouts and that whatever they wanted to achieve they needed to earn for themselves.

  4. Damien DaCosta says:

    This shows that we are country who wants more and reaches Higher. Great job Cayman Islands.

  5. Richard Wadd says:

    This is not just Smoke and Mirrors, this is BLATANT DISHONESTY !

    Firstly, GCSE and CXC are supposed to be taken in Year 11. The Year 12students, including those at SIFEC are those that did poorly in Exams in Year 11, and (frankly), had to RE-TAKE or REPEAT the Exams. 

     No "B" nor "C" has EVER been considered a "High Level Pass" at GCSE, that is reserved for "A" (above 90%) and "A*" (95% or higher) 

     Nothing less than a"1" at CXC could ever be considered a "High Level Pass" either, especially because CXC is less than comparable to GCSE, and does NOT use a 'fixed' grading system. As a result, it is no longer accepted by many overseas Universities.

     Mediocrity is nothing to either boast about nor be proud of.

    Teaching our children to be proud of frankly being an "under-achiever" is neither doing them justice nor preparing them for the "Real World" after they graduate.

     We like to talk "BS" about Expats taking away "Caymanian's Jobs", but how can we expect our kids to compete for jobs that they aren't qualified to hold?



    • Hoping for better days says:

      EXACTLY!!! You hit the nail on the head! People think this is some achievement! Blind leading the blind here…

  6. Whodatis says:

    Great job guys!

    Keep on making us proud.

  7. Anonymous says:


    Former Minister of Education this was his vision and where he wanted to take our children with their education.

    I say it before and I say it again, he was the best that we had and the best there will ever be when it comes to this Ministry.

    Mr. Anglin you will go down as the greatest.

    • Anonymous says:

      Only "his" plan was mostly a continuation of the previous education minister. Kudos to our current Premier.

    • Anonymous says:

      Rolston built on the foundation that was established by Alden.  That is as it should be.  But it was under Alden's administration that a hard honest look was taken about standards and it was under that adminstration that theturn around began.

  8. Nicky Watson says:

    As a parent of a Brac student who took exams last year at the end of Year 11, I'd really like to thank all the dedicated teachers at the Layman Scott High School, who gave up a lot of their free time last year to give extra classes for the students to make up for the lost year. This was the changeover year between the two systems (the old system, where students had six years to complete high school, and the new, where they had five), which I know was challenging for both students and teachers.

    Congratulations to all the students in that year group – now in Year 12! You are setting a standard that I hope all the year groups behind you will meet or beat. Well done!

    • Anonymous says:

      Even more reason now for a robust Immigration policy to secure jobs for future generations.

      • Anonymous says:

        One can argue that percevied challenges in the future jobs market was a behavioural driver to encourage students to study harder.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Way to go John Gray & Clifton Hunter Students keep up the good work lets make next  year Grads results even higher.

  10. Anonymous says:

    A "C" grade at mere GCSE is not a "high pass" in my book.  A "C" grade is mediocre.

    • Anonymous says:

      I was JUST thinking this!

      It is setting our young people up by allowing them to get away with low expectations. An 'A' in the U.S. & at ICCI is 90%-100%….in the CXC I think it's somewhere between 85-100%.

      That's a whole 5% differential!! We should be aiming for 1's & 2's, forget the 3's.

      Another thing. That whole program the last government implemented where students who couldn't pass the CXC/GCSE could take 'replacement' programs. What exactly is the purpose of that!? So we're letting our students take exams for courses that the employer isn't even going to acknowledge, because they are below the standard of legitimately organized certificate programs?!

      Why aren't we encouraging our young people to do more vocational studies? Hair techs, Mechanics, lab techs, vet techs, etc?! I'm sorry, but it's only the truth, not everyone is made to be a Doctor or a Lawyer. Stop giving them false hope! Be realistic with our young people for goodness sake.  

      CNS: Vocational courses are offered in Year 12 – as stated in this an many other articles. The vocational courses at CIFEC are part study and part work experience.

      • Anonymous says:

        Would it hurt so much to get the facts before you start to prattle?

      • Anonymous says:

        You cannot compare pass marks in the U.S. system with pass marks in the British system as they are very different. Students that graduated from High School here with mediocre grades scored 80s and 90s in his U.S. college. Either they suddenly got brilliant when they hit 18 or the standards are different.    

      • Anonymous says:

        I am aware they exist. My point was that they are not encouraged enough. Hair salons, mechanic shops and labs are still full of expats.

    • Anonymous says:

      Your "book" doesn't matter for this purpose. That is the standard that is used internationally and therefore the basis on which we can make comparisons with other countries who sit the same exams. Stop being so negative; it is soul-destroying.

      • Anonymous says:

        You are funny.  The persons book matters more than you care to think.  Make comparisons with other countries who sit the same exams if you like, and I think you'd find that most of the other countries are outstripping Cayman and coming back with mainly A's and B's.

        I left school with C's.  Nobody would employ me.  I had to go to Technical College for another year to get some real qualifications at A's and B's before anyone would consider me.  And that my dear, is most employers' standards worldwide

        • Anonymous says:

          "…most of the other countries are outstripping Cayman and coming back with mainly A's and B's".

          Prove it.


          I thought not. More B.S.

  11. Kim Angelina says:

    Good Job Young Caymanians!!! This is the positive news that people want to see!

  12. Anonymous says:

    This is really good news…now, what about voactional training for those not going on to further education?