BELIZE, Mon. June 11, 2018– Every year in March and May, standard six students all over the country sit the Primary School Exams (PSE). This year, March 19, the first portion of the exams, which consisted of an English component and a Science component, was administered, and on May 5, students completed the other two sections of the exam — Math and Social Studies.
This year, 7,080 students — 3,568 females and 3,512 males — from 273 schools sat the PSE. On Friday, the results for the top 25 performers in the country were released and it was revealed that two students topped the PSE this year with a score of 384/400 each. These students were Haley Thurton of Hummingbird Elementary School in Belize City and Rolando Umaña of La Inmaculada RC School in Orange Walk.
Hummingbird Elementary School is located on 24 Newtown Barracks and strives to “provide a progressive educational environment which inspires students to become life-long learners and responsible citizens.” They opened in 1983 with only 5 students. Today, Hummingbird Elementary is the first choice of many parents of young children. This year, the school had 5 students in the top 25, taking the first, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh places.
According to Jamuna Vasquez, principal of Hummingbird Elementary, every year some of the school’s students are among the top PSE performers; however, while this is an achievement, she prefers to take note of how the school performs on a whole. She wants to highlight all students, even those who might be struggling.
The school prepares its students for the exam from the time they are in infant classes by developing their reading and numerical skills. As the students progress, these skills are improved upon. Therefore, by the time they reach standard six, they are ready to take the exams.
Vasquez says that Thurton is a focused student who is calm and collected and is a very consistent worker.
On the other hand, La Inmaculada RC School is located on Church Street in Orange Walk Town. Recently, the school saw one of its students, Eric Wade, place second in Bowen and Bowen’s Annual National Spelling Bee. Two students from the school placed in the top 25 for the PSE, taking the first and twenty-fifth spot.
The principal of La Inmaculada, Lenny Umaña, who is also Rolando’s aunt, stated that they are very proud of him, and all their students, because they feel that their hard work is paying off. She said that Umaña is a very dedicated student and although he is reserved, he still participates in class and in school activities.
Umaña stated that, to prepare the students for the PSE, they follow the curriculum and the table of specifications given to them by the Ministry of Education, which reflect the topics that will be covered in the PSE. They also put a lot of focus on the major subject areas, like English and Math, and constantly motivate the students to do their best. Umaña also mentioned that parental support plays a major role.
According to Umaña, although they are proud of the students who made the top 25, their mission is always to maintain a high standard throughout the entire school, and to ensure that all the standard six students succeed in the exams.
Rolando plans to attend Muffles High School.
Although these two students performed exceptionally well, the level of overall performance in the country seems to be lower than it was in 2017. In English, only 42% of students achieved a “C” or above, which is classified as a satisfactory level. The mean score remains between an adequate and inadequate range, and it has fallen from 57.9% in 2017 to 55.5% in 2018. The majority of students (33%) received an “E,” which is the inadequate level. 4% received an “A”, 14% received “B”, 24% received “C”, and 25% received “D” (adequate).
Only 36% of students received a satisfactory score or above in Math. This indicates a 1% decrease from last year. As was the case in English, most of the students, 49%, received an “E.” However, there was an increase in the mean score, from 51.9% to 52.6%.
Last year, in the Social Studies section of the exam, the scores of 31% of students were in the “A” range, which is the excellent range. This year, however, that number has dropped to only 16%. The mean score also decreased from 68.1% to 62%. Last year the mode score was a “B,” or competent, but this year that has shifted to “E.”
Lastly, Science was the only subject area in which the average score increased. Last year, 58% of students scored at the satisfactory level or above, and this year that number is 60%. The mode remains unchanged at a “C.”