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Teacher Shirley Gonowrie double checks the paperwork as she gives SEA student Shakeel Sylvester his results while his mother Christal Carrington looks at the Aranguez Government Primary School in San Juan yesterday.

Some 19, 201 students wrote the SEA in 2020, of which 50.42% (9,681) were male and 49.58% (9,520) were female. This is the highest number of students writing over the last 11 years.

The students faced a myriad of challenges, not least of which was uncertainty about the examination which was eventually held on August 20.

In an unusual move, the Ministry of Education yesterday shared some details on placement criteria and highlights of student performance and student recognition in this year’s examination.

Placement Criteria

Students were assigned to secondary schools based on the established placement policy, which comprised six criteria:

(i) Order of Merit

(ii) Choice of school

(iii) Gender

(iv) Principals’ 20% selection

(v) Residence

(vi) Multiple Birth

Students who were unsuccessful in obtaining a score sufficient for placement into one of the four schools of their choosing, were assigned based on their place of residence and availability of spaces in the schools within their community of residence. If spaces were unavailable in the nearest school to the residence of students, then they were placed in the next nearest school with available spaces.

In keeping with the Concordat and the practice of previous years, principals of government-assisted secondary schools were permitted to select 20 per cent of their student intake.

Students who were born after August 31st, 2007 (less than 13 years) and whose average score was 30 per cent or less but who had not previously sat the SEA will be required to repeat the year and re-sit the SEA in 2021.

Students who attained a composite weighted standard score of 30 per cent or below and who were born before August 31st, 2007, or who were doing the assessment for a second time were placed in a secondary school based on choice of school or residence.

Components of the exams

In 2020, the SEA comprised three subjects, namely, English Language Arts Writing, Mathematics and English Language Arts. English Language Arts Writing and English Language Arts, which are in the same cognate area, are combined and together contribute the same percentage to the final score as Mathematics. This is the second year of SEA with the new test format, which was designed to assess higher-order skills in Mathematics (reasoning and analysing) and English Language Arts (for example, inferring, evaluation and appreciation).

Overall Performance

In 2020, the mean Mathematics score is 52.9. Similarly, the mean English Language Arts Writing score is 57 and the mean English Language Arts score is 60.7.

Performance by Bands

In 2020, the performance in SEA was also analysed according to the percentage of students attaining three important thresholds.

The percentage of students scoring above 50 per cent was 63 per cent and the percentage of students scoring 30 per cent or below was 11 per cent. The percentage of students scoring above 90 per cent was 1.61 per cent. These percentages are reflective of a normal distribution of scores for norm-referenced assessments that are suited for accommodating the placement of students. In 2019, 52% of students scored above 50%, 0.69% scored above 90% and 13.7% scored 30% or below.

Most Outstanding Results

In 2020, female students attained the distinction of the top three students. The top male student placed seventh.