Thesis: The GSAT examination should be addressed as an inadequate measure of scholastic ability and, hence, is unsuitable as the main tool used in the current academic system.
Two recent articles have shed light on the public consensus showing displeasure with the GSAT examination. The first article, by Tyrone Reid GSAT ‘Unsuitable’ published in the Gleaner on Monday April 6, 2012, speculates at the appropriateness of the content of the exam and also its strict means of assessment. The second article Revisit GSAT Issue for Better Placement by Wayne Campbell published in the Jamaica Observer on Monday April 30, 2012, challenges the effectiveness of GSAT as an assessment tool and cites ways in which it is disadvantageous to the educational system.
The first major concern pointed out by these sources is that the GSAT is not appropriate in assessing a student’s true scholastic ability. (Reid, 2012) In GSAT ‘Unsuitable’, both Dr. Karen Richards and Margaret Bailey agreed that the finality of the exam results, in relation to the limited scope of assessment, proved GSAT to be unfair to the students. Furthermore, (Campbell, 2012) in Revisit GSAT, spoke about the flawed structure of how questions are marked on the exam, citing that it is easy for students to evade certain types of questions completely. The consensus on the literature is that the GSAT, as a one-time-per-year exam, is too limited a sample of someone’s academic ability and is a sample that is too easily skewed.
The second major concern is that the GSAT is actually damaging the educational system and that this attack is twofold. The first problem is stated in GSAT ‘Unsuitable’ by Patrice Harrison of GSATready. She pointed out that the content of the exam seem irrelevant, stating that while the topics are sound the specifics of the questions ask for information that is extraneous for the student. The second problem comes from (Campbell, 2012) in Revisit GSAT, stating that the actual placement proposed by GSAT scores is damaging to the educational system. He cites that the way the scores are used only widens the disparity between high and low performing schools and that the placement of students perpetuates these trends.
In concluding the credibility of both authors was unquestionable because of the use of reputable sources to bring their points across. The authors chose simple language to bring to the attention of the general public, issues parents and children face as a result of the GSAT. The structure of the articles was such that the audience fully grasps the material presented. Therefore the information itself was concise and to the point and did not leave the readers any room for misjudgment. The authors tone expresses a genuine concern as it relates to the state of GSAT and its impact on the nation’s youth.
GSAT ‘Unsuitable’ published in the Gleaner on April 9, 2012 written by Tyrone Reid is an article which served to highlight some of the issues with GSAT as the final placement examination for the primary school level.
The author used captions from local educators to reinforce the information put forward. Firstly, primary school principal and author Dr. Margaret Bailey highlighted that the one exam principle is unsuitable. She made this statement because she believes that it is unreasonable to decide the faith of the children with one exam.
Dr. Karen Richards’s clinical psychologist agreed with Dr. Bailey. She went to suggest the use of school base assessment over just sitting an exam. She stated that, the use of psychological assessment for children sitting the GSAT may be beneficial to get a better understanding of their readiness and ability to cope with the stress of the exam.
Former Prime Minister Edward Seaga stated that, the issues of GSAT are not a onetime problem but a yearlong issue. He said that GSAT is time consuming and impedes the children’s social development and that there should be a curriculum reform. Managing Director Patrice Harrison from the GSATReady.com agreed that there should be a reform in the curriculum as there is unnecessary information required for GSAT.
The author close by using a point brought forward by Dr. Bailey, she said that development is necessary at the secondary level in order to better place the children.
Revisit GSAT issue for better placement
Revisit GSAT issue for better placement published in the Jamaica Observer on April 30, 2012 written by Wayne Campbell is an article geared at looking into the placement issues with GSAT.
The author first sought to highlight the elitist nature of GSAT. He went on to describe the two fold manner in which children are placed in secondary institutions. He further emphasizes how this two fold placement permeates into the socio-economic divide evident in the Jamaican society.
Secondly, the author expresses the inability of GSAT to truly measure the students’ ability to perform at the secondary level. He uses a scenario to further strengthens his claim by showing how a student may pass a given section of GSAT with little or no aptitude in that area. He also uses rhetorical strategies to question the apparent fracture within the education system.
The author closes his argument by suggesting a possible strategy for placement of children. He also mentioned that an apparent revisit into the structure of GSAT is necessary aiming at making it an equitable way of placing children.
Reid , T. (2012, April 9). GSAT 'unsuitable'. The Gleaner. Retrieved July 20, 2012 from http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20120409/lead/lead1.html
Campbell, W. (2013, April 30). Revisit GSAT issue for better placement. Retrieved July 20, 2012 from http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/Revisit-GSAT-issue-for-better-placement_11354000
DWAYNE O. BROWN
AY July 26, 2012 - ID#0703837