Ministry introduces SEA framework

The Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion has in­tro­duced a pol­i­cy frame­work gov­ern­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion of the Sec­ondary En­trance As­sess­ment (SEA) ex­am— with spe­cial em­pha­sis be­ing fo­cused on the Eng­lish Lan­guage and Math­e­mat­ics cur­ricu­lum guides of 2013.

In 2013, the Pri­ma­ry Cur­ricu­lum Rewrite (PCR) was com­plet­ed es­tab­lish­ing a mod­ern ap­proach that pur­pose­ful­ly pulls to­geth­er knowl­edge, skills, at­ti­tudes and val­ues from all sub­ject ar­eas to de­vel­op a more com­pre­hen­sive un­der­stand­ing of fun­da­men­tal ideas.

In­tend­ed for use by all stake­hold­ers with can­di­dates who are ex­pect­ed to write the SEA for the pe­ri­od 2019-2023, of­fi­cials at the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion have said the PCR is in­tend­ed to de­vel­op the crit­i­cal think­ing ca­pac­i­ty of all stu­dents, while al­so help­ing to strength­en their an­a­lyt­i­cal and in­ter­pre­ta­tive skills.

In an in­ter­view, Gar­cia said the new pol­i­cy in­clud­ed changes to the syl­labus as well as in­te­grat­ed teach­ing mech­a­nisms for the class­room.

Gar­cia stressed that pri­or to the ex­am be­ing set, of­fi­cials were made aware that they need to cater to “A wide range of abil­i­ties and there­fore the ques­tions them­selves would have to in­clude low­er or­der ques­tions, gen­er­al knowl­edge ques­tions, and high­er or­der ques­tions that deal with analy­sis and in­ter­pre­ta­tion.”Pres­i­dent of the Trinidad and To­ba­go Uni­fied Teach­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, (TTUTA), Lyns­ley Doo­d­hai con­firmed they were aware of the changes to the cur­ricu­lum and the new as­sess­ment frame­work.

Doo­d­hai said, “The As­so­ci­a­tion was of the view and we are still of the view that there could have been greater train­ing of teach­ers with re­spect to the tran­si­tion to a new as­sess­ment frame­work which calls for more crit­i­cal think­ing.”

Doo­d­hai ad­vo­cat­ed that, “Crit­i­cal think­ing skills is some­thing that has to be taught to teach­ers and is al­so some­thing that has to be taught to stu­dents, and if teach­ers are re­quired to teach crit­i­cal think­ing skills to stu­dents, then the teach­ers al­so need to be pre­pared to do that.”

“As far as we are con­cerned, the min­istry did not ad­e­quate­ly pre­pare teach­ers to teach chil­dren to think crit­i­cal­ly.”

Cur­ricu­lum and ed­u­ca­tion ex­pert, Pro­fes­sor Michael Brad­shaw agreed that while one or two of the ques­tions might have proven to be dif­fi­cult, “The ma­jor­i­ty of the com­ments was re­al­ly be­cause there was a lack of the crit­i­cal think­ing as­pect be­ing taught in schools, so the stu­dents did not have enough prac­tice.”

Re­fer­ring to the com­pi­la­tion of the Trinidad Guardian’s SEA Prac­tice Test avail­able every Wednes­day, Brad­shaw said he ad­vised the ex­am­in­ers to in­clude ques­tions fea­tur­ing the crit­i­cal think­ing as­pect as, “For too long, chil­dren have been spoon-fed and giv­en facts to re­gur­gi­tate but we re­al­ly need to get crit­i­cal thinkers in our sys­tem.”

He stressed that while chil­dren be­gan dis­play­ing crit­i­cal think­ing ap­ti­tudes from an ear­ly age, “It was at dif­fer­ent lev­els.”

A clin­i­cal ex­pert who de­clined to be named in­sist­ed the Bar­ba­di­an mod­el had more mer­it in this area as it en­cour­aged young­sters to play as, “It cre­ate en­er­gy and al­lows cre­ativ­i­ty to take hold of the child.”

“To be crit­i­cal, you need to have cre­ative back­grounds. You need to be able to think out­side the box and that is what play does. It light­ens up the mind which is whol­ly in­volved when one is play­ing so that is im­por­tant.”

He warned, “If they are not do­ing that from the first year class straight to the fifth year, and when they come to the SEA year now and they want the chil­dren to be cre­ative now…it is not go­ing to work.”

“This has to be a pro­gres­sive sys­tem.”

- by Anna Lisa Paul

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