The Grade Six National Assessment is carded for June 23 and 24 and the Ministry of Education says all preparations are being made to ensure that everything is ready for the two days of assessment.

A total of eight hundred and fifty-four students will be writing the exams across 70 centres around the island; that is four hundred and seventeen girls and four hundred and thirty-seven boys with the largest number of students being in the Roseau catchment area.

Measurement Officer at the Curriculum Unit, Ms. Candia Robinson, says the exams were postponed because of the lack of face to face learning due to the rising cases of covid-19 in Dominica.

“One of the things we did was that we postponed the exams. So it was supposed to have been on the 26th and 27th of May and because of covid-19 and students were online, some parents were concerned that there was some loss on the students acquisition of concepts and so on. So one of the things we try to do is accommodate schools and the parents and the students. So we pushed it back to 23rd and 24th. So far we are almost ready, we are almost there. One of the things we do is that we have workshops with the supervisors of the schools, printing of exams, and one of the new things we are doing is that we are going to go online with at least one of the components, because they have been online for a while, so hopefully that will help us in terms of figuring out what we have to do and what we shouldn’t for next year,” Ms. Robinson stated.

She further explained that Social Science will be done online this year.

“The subject we will be doing online is Social Sciences. We had a choice between Science and Social Sciences mainly because there are a lot of pictures, and one of the issues sis that our printer only prints in black and white and sometime students couldn’t see it very clearly. So we figured it is a short exam, it is fifty questions as opposed to the Mathematics and the Language Arts which are sixty questions. So we figured if we are going to do something online and do something that has a lot of diagrams and illustrations which will make it very clear for the students,” she explained.

In 2020, the Grade Six National Assessment was done in one day. This year, the exams have reverted to the two days which will enable students to better manage the exams. She says measures are being put in place to ensure social distancing among students.

“I remember initially when covid came, we did it for one day because we didn’t want them moving up and down on buses and so on. But it was a lot for the students and we had to cut down on the number of items so that they could do it one day. Last year we decided that it was too much so we are going back to the two days but one of the things that we did was in terms of social distancing, so we have increased the number of centres. I think earlier on, we had a hundred and we broke it down to 70 but before covid we had about 50 centres. So for example one school may have ten centres where the most we may have in one centre is about fifteen to sixteen students. There is a school with about forty students but it is in a hall so it is so large they are at least three feet apart which is what we say is the new minimum for distance,” the Measurement Officer noted.

The Ministry is also making provision for students who may be infected with the covid-19 virus. The students will be allowed to take the exams from home.

“If a child is infected with covid and we aware of the situation, obviously if it’s a day before there is nothing we can do about it. But we are going to be working with the local registrar for CXC who is going to use some of her invigilators because they have some experience in that, and they will go to the student’s homes with all the necessary precautions taking place, and the assessment will be administered at the child’s home,” Ms. Robinson explained.  

Ms. Robinson had these words of advice for parents of the students who are taking the grade six national assessment exams this week:

“One of the things that happen especially with the Grade Six National Assessment is excitement and this added stress. So we try to tell the parents, please try not to stress the students, because in doing so you are going to get them nervous on the day. So be there for them, praise them, give them the support that they need; on the day of the exam you drop them off, you give them a little kiss on their cheek, tell them good luck, you leave and then you come back at the end of the day. On the first day it ends about one because the Language paper has two components but the second day ends at about 12 o’clock so they can come around that time. But we do not really want them on the school compound. Again, regardless we still have to take the covid-protocols into consideration and we do not want crowding and so on. So drop them off, and pick them up. Give them their snack, ensure that they have everything because we do not want them sharing writing items and so on,” Robinson added.