Ministry: GSAT changes will facilitate more targeted approach

Dr Grace McLean

THE Ministry of Education says the changes made to the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) will ensure adequate assessment of the skills and competencies that are necessary for students to transition to secondary school.

Chief Education Officer in the ministry, Dr Grace McLean, said the adjustments will also facilitate a more targeted approach to the preparation for the test.

The changes, which take effect at the next sitting of the examination in March 2015, are consistent with reviews conducted in 2009 and 2012.

But McLean disclosed that the changes will be confined to two of the five subject areas in social studies and science.

“There will be no changes to the mathematics, language arts and communications task [content] at this time. Neither will there be any changes to the types of items used to measure students’ performance on the test,” she noted.

The social studies content will be reduced by 25 per cent and will now consist of 60 items focused on areas such as Jamaica’s location and physical beauty; important events and people in Jamaica’s history; and the effects of weather and climate.

Students will also be tested on Jamaica’s Caribbean neighbours, including their history, culture and co-operation among countries; the planet Earth as part of the solar system, and different climatic zones.

Meanwhile, the science test will be clarified to ensure that teaching and learning emphasise the mastery of general concepts and basic scientific principles.

Content for science will look at areas such as sense organs, simple and complex machines, the earth’s atmosphere, nutrition, energy, and rock, minerals and soils.

The GSAT, Jamaica’s national high school entrance examination, is usually taken in March with the results released in June. The test replaced the Common Entrance Examination in 1999.

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