The Daily Herald reports that Saba Comprehensive School (SCS) Vice-Principal Constance Clement shared impressive final examination results of this year’s graduating class, a first 100 per cent passing by all students evaluated under the Caribbean Examinations Council’s (CXC) testing requirements. The SCS diploma requires students to complete six CXC subjects, or five CXC subjects and a Cambridge-accredited examination of Dutch language. While the official results have not been released, the school received feedback on a commendable performance. The trend is incremental.
Last year, SCS had issued diplomas for 90 percent of CXC-evaluated students. There is a qualitative improvement as well. The biggest leap is in mathematics, from 40 per cent passing last year to 100 per cent. Clement said the school employs a continuous assessment approach and the CXC examination involves a School Based Assessment (SBA) component as part on the final grade. In certain subjects, the SBA may make up to 24 per cent of the final exam score.
The most exceptional results highlighted by Clement were obtained by student Alexis Zofia Marie Johnson, who wrote 11 subjects, 10 CXC exams plus the Cambridge based Dutch-language assessment. She has passed every subject with the maximum grade 1, the equivalent of an “A,” and obtained seven distinctions, meaning “A+.” These distinctions were in mathematics, information technology, biology, human and social biology, social studies, Spanish and Dutch.
Student Bianca Abigail Johnson received the next best results passing 10 examination subjects, including six with grade 1.
SCS also recently received a very positive performance feedback from a Ministry of Education inspection on their progress towards achieving all national evaluation criteria, an integration process expected to be completed by 2016. The Ministry is reportedly pleased with school environment safety, the progress in curriculum development, interactive pedagogical activities and personnel upgrading. Teacher, parent and student satisfaction are on the rise, interviews by Ministry inspectors indicated. A written policy on student safety is among remaining challenges.
While Saba students can choose to pursue their higher education in the Caribbean or the United States, most choose to study in the Netherlands. “We find that most who go to Holland encounter problems because of the language, but also because of the culture. I find that they need more support when they go there,” Clement said. When asked about the school’s dropout rate, Clement said, “We have seen students return saying that they are taking ‘breaks.’ Unofficially, we hear they have to change subjects because of the language barrier. Most of them can only get into schools that offer teaching in English and that places them at a disadvantage because certain science subjects are not offered in English. As a result, they tend to change subjects to degrees that are less demanding.” There is no verifiable information on this, as the school does not receive any formal feedback from entities that might support Caribbean Netherlands’ students studying in the European Netherlands. The one consistent variable in success stories, Clement noted, is that these students have family in the Netherlands. That support mechanism and guidance is essential she said, adding that the results “seem to have something to do with our students coming from a small-island community, being thrown into a big environment and given a great level of personal responsibility. “When going there, they need consistent support, somebody there to immerse and guide them. We have to think how to prepare our students not just academically, but also for their successful immersion in Dutch society. We can’t do it only from here. We need a functional support mechanism over there as well. If we can bridge that support gap, I think they will do better.”
Congratulations to all students and to the teachers who contributed to this success. I’m proud of you all, and wish you al the best for the near future.