Ministry releases delayed exam results

The wait is over for thousands of Year 8 students who sat the 2020 Samoa Primary Education Certification of Achievement (S.P.E.C.A.) exams and wanted to know the results.

The results were released on Monday by the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture (MESC) according to a statement issued by the Ministry on Wednesday. 

The Ministry says it made an effort to push back the dates of the 2020 National Assessments, in order to accommodate the required 40 weeks of teaching and learning to cover the full curriculum, despite the COVID-19 restrictions.   

It further stated that the most critical priority was the compilation of the Samoa School Leaving Certificate (S.S.L.C.). results and that it was given urgency due to the deadlines for National University of Samoa Foundation and [Technical and Vocational Education and Training] T.V.E.T. enrolments.

The M.E.S.C. says these results were released on 14 January 2021 and second priority was given to the Samoa School Certificate (S.S.C.) with the results released on 22 January 2021.

“The Ministry continued to complete the Year 8 S.P.E.C.A. quality assurance for the analyses and verification of results in 7 subjects whereby at least 4,000 students sat per subject,” reads the Ministry's statement. 

The Ministry statement also added that the S.P.E.C.A. and the final of 2020 national certifications were released to school principals on Monday, 21 February 2021. 

Furthermore, the M.E.S.C. statements also says the S.P.E.C.A. results, which indicate a student’s completion of the first eight-years of primary education, has taken a more meaningful and analytical approach.

In addition Year 8 reporting also include student kidmaps that indicate students’ attainment (or not) of learning outcomes. This information is used to provide diagnostic information needed by principals, teachers, students, and parents to identify learning gaps and inform of key learning interventions.

In so doing, principals are empowered to compare and analyse each school’s performance over a period of at least three years. 

Earlier this year, the M.E.S.C. hosted its annual Teachers Conference which was held on 20 January 2021 which was dedicated to the presentation of national results including S.S.C. and S.S.L.C.

This was where teachers and principals were given the opportunity to raise issues and ask questions in relation to trends and analyses presented by the Ministry's Chief Executive Officer. 

The Ministry also revealed that the Year 8 trends from 2017 to 2020 showed improvements across five of the seven subjects as assessed over the last four years.

Moreover, the national assessments for [Samoa Primary Education Literacy Levels tests] S.P.E.L.L. Years 4 and 6 and S.P.E.C.A. are aligned to the skills levels of the Regional [Pacific Islands Literacy and Numeracy Assessment] P.I.L.N.A. assessments sat by our Year 4 and Year 6 every three years (2012, 2015 and 2018) with the next one scheduled for this year 2021.

The M.E.S.C. statement highlighted that the 2020 Year 8 S.P.E.C.A. cohort is the same cohort that demonstrated a significant growth (more than 1 standard deviation) above that of the region in 2018 P.I.L.N.A. Year 6 numeracy and almost 1 standard deviation for P.I.L.N.A. Year 6 literacy.  

The 2020 S.P.E.C.A. 2020 cohort was part of the first group of recipients (in 2018) for targeted interventions based on robust tool development and reliable analyses from the 2017 plethora of national primary diagnostic assessments (a total of 25 tests), the Ministry's statement further stated. 

Furthermore, in terms of the S.S.C. and S.S.L.C. results the Ministry relayed that despite a 2.5 per cent decrease of students who “qualified for university” in 2019 compared to 2018, the percentage of students eligible for N.U.S. Foundation increased by nearly 3 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019 despite global pandemics and national state of emergencies. 

“A very pleasing result is the consistency over the last four years (2017-2020), whereby more than 90 [per cent] of all students sitting S.S.L.C., were eligible to enter N.U.S. Foundation and T.V.E.T. programmes,” says the M.E.S.C. statement.

The Ministry also clarified that there is no evidence to support that the delay in the students receiving their S.P.E.C.A. results led to early school leavers and non-acceptance into a college. 

However, it found that there is evidence – from a study conducted by M.E.S.C. in 2019 investigating the reasons why students leave school early – that social-economic issues such as financial hardship, education not a parental priority, broken families, a unsupportive home environment, and low parental expectations influence are factors behind students leaving school early. 

Nevertheless the Ministry's statement says the transition rate from primary to secondary is relatively high of around 90 per cent, especially given that some students repeat Year 8 or leave due to a number of factors.

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