Children returning to schools will be assessed on learning gaps, well-being
As children return to schools for face-to-face learning either full-time or on a rotational basis, they will undergo a diagnostic assessment to allow their teachers to understand the learning gaps that might have developed while schools were closed since March 2020.
This diagnostic assessment is also expected to provide teachers with an understanding of their overall well-being and what support services they would need.
This was explained on Friday at a press conference held by the Ministry of Education at the National Centre for Educational Research and Development (NCERD) in Kingston, Georgetown.
Quenita Walrond-Lewis, the Director of NCERD, explained that the diagnostic assessment is student-centered and aims to give teachers the opportunity to hear directly from the students. And, it is expected that these assessments will inform the rollout of a consolidated curriculum for children’s learning as they finally return to the physical classroom setting.
This consolidated curriculum, Walrond-Lewis explained, “… is a shared vision of how teaching and learning are to unfold and to ensure that children are on track after being away from so long.”
This curriculum is a condensed form of the usual school curriculum that would be used to teach children, Walrond- Lewis said, but some aspects that may have been repetitive may be discarded.
In other cases, she explained that the curriculum has been fashioned in such a way that it restructured the learning. An example of this, provided by Walrond- Lewis, was the integration of handwriting into the composition; here, even if children are writing their compositions, they can practice their cursive writing.
NCRED’s Director stated that this curriculum is not a new one, nor is it a “watering down” of the existing curriculum. Instead, she emphasised, “… the (learning) outcomes are still preserved according to children’s developmental trajectory.”
The rollout of the curriculum is being done against the backdrop of learning loss that occurred during the pandemic because children have not been engaged as per normal. Since the emergence of the pandemic in March 2020, schools were closed and learning shifted online.
For many children, however, access to virtual classes was constrained and as such, those children would not have been adequately engaged while schools were closed.
But now that schools are reopening and children are allowed to return to schools and engage in face-to-face learning, in addition to online learning avenues, Minister of Education Priya Manickchand contends that teaching cannot resume as per normal.
“… we can’t begin teaching as though you did not miss this time,” the minister reasoned.
For illustrative purposes, a student who is entering Grade Six come September would have been in Grade Four when schools closed and learning went online. And cognisant of time that has elapsed, the Education Minister explained that the consolidated curriculum will allow teachers to teache some work from the year that was missed (using the example, the missed year would be Grade Five) before teaching work from the current year of study (in this case, Grade Six).
Meanwhile, Walrond- Lewis assured members of the media that the rollout of the consolidated curriculum has the necessary buy-in from teachers across Guyana and that they were training in both the curriculum and the assessment.
“The teachers are very appreciative of the fact that it resembles their learning schemes,” she related.