Consolidated curriculum to facilitate students re-entering school system
NCERD Director, Quenita Walrond-Lewis
NCERD Director, Quenita Walrond-Lewis

— diagnostic assessment to evaluate students’ shortcomings as schools reopen

AS students are expected to return to school on September 6, 2021, after months of being away from face-to-face learning, the Ministry of Education has designed a consolidated curriculum to enable students to catch up on work they would have missed out, and to facilitate them re-entering the classrooms.

The consolidated curriculum will be complemented and supported by a diagnostic assessment which the ministry will also be rolling out to determine how students were affected during the COVID-19 pandemic, academically as well as psychosocially.

This announcement was made by Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand, during a press conference on Friday. Also in attendance were Chief Education Officer, Dr. Marcel Huston, and Director of the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD), Quenita Walrond-Lewis, among others.

Walrond-Lewis explained that the consolidated curriculum was to ensure students were on track after such a prolonged period away from schools; it was also an effort undertaken by the ministry to “reduce the stress” of teachers and support them.

“It allows for adjustments to timelines and for students learning — this is important because … we are looking at where our students left off and are trying to work our way back up to standard,” she said.

“So we are trying, in a very cohesive way, to reach back and think about where students ended their academic journey, and then try to work our way forward towards where they need to be, by grade level,” she added.

The consolidated curriculum is not a new curriculum, rather, it is a “tightening” or “streamlining” of the existing national curriculum, Walrond-Lewis said, and she explained that the content delivered to students, as well as the learning objectives, will not be watered down.

The curriculum was crafted for the four core subject areas – mathematics, language arts, science and social studies – and will be implemented in grades one to nine, as grades 10 and 11 use the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) curriculum.

It will be implemented for a tentative period of up to four years, based on assessment of its success and the rate at which students “catch up”, the Education Minister said as she explained that the national curriculum is currently being revised to meet the current standards as that curriculum has not been revised for some 50 years.

In explaining how the curriculum was constructed, Walrond-Lewis highlighted that specific topics and learning objectives were reviewed and opportunities for logical connections were assessed, and, where appropriate, integrated.

For context, handwriting is a timetabled subject as well as composition. These two subjects were incorporated so that while students write stories, they also practise the art of handwriting. Duplication of content across subject areas was also assessed to determine what could be omitted without it detrimentally affecting students.

With this consolidated curriculum, a child entering into Grade Four, who missed Grade Three due to the pandemic and would not have had consistent educational engagement, would be able to “catch up” on the missed work.

Students’ shortcomings will be assessed by using a diagnostic assessment which measures empirically, what a learner knows, or can do and informs of action to be taken.

“When we think in terms of lost learning and gaps, and the need to catch up, diagnostic assessment is focused on what learners can’t do and this is the motivating re-entry point for both educators and learners,” Walrond-Lewis said.

The assessment is done in two parts and looks at the learner’s psychosocial state, and general wellbeing and attitude towards returning to the learning space, as well as the academic or cognitive knowledge that he/she is returning to school with.

Part one is an information gathering conversation which will help build faster rapport between the teacher and the student and will enable the educator to create learner profiles for students.

“The learner profile gives you a look or a peek into the social life of the child, their educational engagement during the pandemic, attitudes towards school and learning; perhaps some children may carry fear about going into a clustered environment, and the child’s own self-appraisal of his or herself as the learner,” Walrond-Lewis said.

Part two will focus entirely on the academic component; it will only focus on the language arts and mathematics to assess and understand where students left off. It will be guided by the national curriculum to measure where the student left off in his/her learning journey.


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