Education reform ‘unique’

| 22/08/2014

(CNS): Eighty-five percent of students who graduated from the Brac high school this summer achieved five or more Level 2 passes, and all 85% reached the new goalpost, which is 5+ passes including maths and English. Sixty-four percent, almost two thirds, achieved seven or more Level 2 passes, Chief Education Officer Shirley Wahler told teaching staff on Cayman Brac. “Once again the Layman E. Scott High School has set the standard,” she said, describing the results, which are the best ever achieved in the Cayman Islands, as “phenomenal”. On top of that, the Year 11 class from the LSHS has already outstripped any Year 12 group prior to this year, she said, emphasizing that the reforms that have yielded such a spectacular turnaround in results are “uniquely Caymanian”.

Addressing teaching staff at the Annual Education Professionals' Welcome for staff on the Sister Islands on Friday morning in the high school hall, Wahler told them that everyone “should feel a glow of pride”, and described the results as “a community success”.

The Year 11 students, who will graduate from the LSHS in the summer of 2014 and are the second year group on the Brac to take their exams early and go onto the restructured Year 12 programme, have already achieved better results than any Year 12 group except for the LSHS Class of 2014. The CEO told teachers that 73% already have five or more Level 2 passes, 68% have 5+ Level 2 passes including maths and English, 50% have seven or more and 43% have nine or more Level 2 passes.

Passes at CXC and CSEC grades I – III or GCSE/IGCSE grades A* through C are Level 2 or Standard High School Level. Five Level 2 qualifications are recognised internationally as equivalent to a US high school diploma and mark successful completion of secondary education. (Read more about academic levels here)

While the reforms in education have taken place over the last decade, Wahler, who was principal of the Brac high school before becoming chief education officer, said the journey of reform on the Sister Island had really been over the course of the last decade and a half. Much of the “trailblazing work” had been done on Cayman Brac for others to emulate, she said.

“We find out what works for us, and then we do more of it,” she said, explaining that the progress made in the education system had come out of a “uniquely Caymanian solution”. She noted that many efforts toward improvements in the Cayman Islands involve using overseas expertise, and this had been especially true for education.

However, Wahler stressed, “Our solution came from inside the system.” The reforms are based on building literacy and numeracy skills and building student confidence, she said and aimed not just at passing exams but also improving the “soft skills” needed to function as an adult.

As gratifying as the high school results are, she said, the “most exciting” news was from the primary schools, where reading results for Year 6 students across the system were up 21%, writing results were up 13%, and maths results rose by 8%.

What this means is that students now entering high school are doing so with better skills that previous years, which points towards even better results for future graduating classes, the CEO noted.

Saying she was the “last person to be complacent” and that “the journey is by no means over”, the chief education officer paid tribute the teaching staff who had accomplished those results.

“It’s important to stop and celebrate successes,” she said.

Related story on CNS:

Schools’ results celebrated

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  1. Craig Mock says:

    It's the Brac parents that should also be commended in this article.  Bracers still care enough to be involved with their kids.  

  2. Anonymous says:

    It is still astounding that Little Cayman has a school, staffed by 1 ex-pat teacher who can neither swim or drive the school van. Save money Mary? Close it down.

    • Anonymous says:

      Note the unnecessary reference to "ex-pat".  Another example of festering xenophobia.

      • Anonymous says:

        The comment is certainly a shining example of festering stupidity. The xenophobia is just a manifestation of that stupidity. How can one justify closing down a school that has an active student population?

  3. anonymous says:

    CNS, please explain what a "level 2" pass actually is. Is it the same as a pass at IGCS between the grades A+ C? Thanks.

    CNS: It's explained in paragraph 4.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Let me tell you. The Cayman Brac students are really bright. Im serious about this. They are phenomenal. The dress neat.They followchool rules ad policy.Trust me they are great students in the brac.

  5. Anonymous says:

             Why do we continue to have so many jealous people who post negative comments whenever Caymanians achievesomething positive?

    • Joe B says:

      Its not jealousy.  Just hard to belive given all the many past  bogus number games played by the Caymanian government to make them look better when there was actually nothing new to show.  Trust is earned just like mistrust.  The continued posts on Caymanian leadeships many, many failings on not only corruption and outright theft of public money for their own personal use but the lack of accountability and responsibility has made it impossible to take anything said now as fact.  That's why.  Hopefully someday this will have changed but not today Bobo.  If this is true then this looks good for the future of Caymanians as it is the students who deserve the credit and not the current administration.

    • Anonymous says:

      If by "jealous people" you are referring to those of us who desire to establish that we are not being led up the garden path by a particular ministry a second time, well then all I can conclude is that you are sadly mistaken and quite remarkably gullible. There are persons out there who will take full advantage of your naivety, believe me my good sir/madam.

    • noname says:

      Why do you continue to belive an administration that has never even fixed the dump year after year after year while promising to do so?  Is doing nothing a positive achievement here?  Honest question as it would explain a lot.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Way to go Brackers!

  7. Wizard of OZ says:

    OK we're comparing against our our history but how do we measure up to the rest of the test takers? What were their averages and how do our results compare?

    CNS: By way of comparison, this is on the ARK Academies website, posted yesterday:

    "Students at ARK Schools are celebrating a record set of GCSE results today. The number of students getting 5 good GCSE passes (A*-C including English and maths) across the network is up from 54% to 57%."

    • Anonymous says:

      Good one, CNS!

    • Anonymous says:

      Woww!  Up to a whopping 57%?  Gee, the ARK schools are dismal failures compared to the Brac school.  Seems that the ARK schools have a heeluva lot of catching up to do to keep up with Cayman Brac. Does this result not make the idea to turn to the ARK system a moronic idea?  I tink we would be better off turning to the Brac model, nah?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Nothing can really be gleaned from such small numbers.

    • Anonymous says:

      If the percentages were bad then you would gain a whole lot from them. Idiots like you were proclaiming that we had the highest murder rate in the world and you were not concerned about small numbers then. You're just disappointed that our education system is not living up to your  expectations of failure.

      • Anonymous says:

        Your over-sensitive reaction does not alter the fact that the numbers involved are so low that no conclusions can be safely drawn from them.

    • Anonymous says:

      These stats arrepeated year after year. Each individul year is small I agree but his country is not exactly New York in numbers. This article is noting the sgniicant achievements in Cayman Brac. You say nothing can be gained from it then you are blind. 

  9. Anonymous says:

    This is unbelievable news. And to think all this was acheived with only 30 odd students to teach in the examination year group on the Brac as opposed to 300 plus on Grand Cayman.

    This just proves that the smaller the school automatically the better the results  – it's a no-brainer.

    • Anonymous says:

      So using that logic the Little Cayman school should have the best results of all. Is that really the case?

      • Anonymous says:

        Little Cayman has a school? Whats the ratio there, 1 on 1?

      • Anonymous says:

        Apologies (possibly!) 14:14. My point was that to attempt to compare the Brac high school (with its tiny roll) with high schools on Grand Cayman is plain silliness for reasons too obvious to state. Just toclarify, there is an "education service" on Little Cayman, established around 1999, but it only caters to a handful of primary school students and is not regarded as a regular school.

    • Gut Check says:

      I know many of them.   They're not THAT odd.   😀

    • Anonymous says:

      Well said. The percentages are totally misleading. We want hard numbers ie. the number of students not the percentage. It could be said that we had a 100% pass rate in French and then when you check it out we only had one student who sat the French examination. Ms. Wahler is very good at using percentages to make a positive point but it is misleading. Having said that congratulations to our Brac students and teachers for a job well done

      CNS: They are percentages of the whole cohort. See Brac graduates blaze a trail

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually your position is based on ignorance,  Ideal class sizes for education outcomes are 18 or 24.  Lower numbers than that do not improve outcomes and in fact lead to poorer results.