The months of January and February are key months for the MESC and schools as administrators, principals and teachers get down to serious planning for the entire school year ahead. Of particular importance are the workshops for both primary and secondary schools whereby, results of the previous year are distributed to principals and teachers all eager to find out, not only how well they performed in the 2018 national assessments and examinations, but where they will focus improvement for 2019.
For Primary schools, a workshop focusing on the results for SPELL (Samoa Primary Education Literacy Levels) Year 4 was held Thursday 14th February at the SCOPA Hall, Vaivase Tai. The workshop was well attended by 253 Principals and teachers from Savaii and Upolu.
The CEO MESC, Afioga Afamasaga Dr. Karoline Afamasaga-Fuata’i gave a special presentation on ‘Bridging Ability and Achievement Gaps’ using the analyses from national assessments at Year 4. The various reports covering national, school and individual levels were explored, studied and then reflected upon. Teachers’ comprehension and understanding of the different reports was challenged as the CEO’s drive home message of each year a child spends at school, the national assessments should reflect a steady upward progression and that the student’s ability level should mirror, if not better, the difficulty level of the SPELL diagnostic tests. Teachers reflected, questioned and analysed their practices in the classroom whilst principals contemplated staff meetings to formulate achievement targets based on valid and reliable evidence from data such as the national assessments. Afamasaga also emphasized that school based planning should reflect integration and thematic learning given that at primary level, this was how students naturally learn best.
A little earlier in the week, on Tuesday 12th February, secondary teachers representing all colleges, attended the National Internal Assessment Workshop at MESC whereby lessons learnt and highlights of IA results and practices were presented by the ACEO Assessment & Examinations (AED), Funealii L. Sooaemalelagi. The teachers then broke up into subject areas to go through, clarify and substantiate the specific IA tasks. Following this, a feedback session on the 2018 Examination paper was presented by the Examiner and/or members of the marking/scoring Panel. This is always a very interesting time as examiners, moderators and panel members go through the exam paper highlighting strengths and weaknesses of student responses. It is an excellent professional opportunity to dialogue, debate and deliberate upon the exam paper; both its intent and outcome.
Despite the unpredictable weather of the past week, 303 teachers of Year 12 & 13 turned up at the meeting which was led by the AED. This workshop/feedback session covered 11 out of 18 subjects. Due to new IA developments 7 subjects (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, English, Samoan, Mathematics and Music) will hold their workshop and exam feedback sessions, early next month.
The beginning of the school year is critical for planning; as such the MESC will endeavor to support and uphold the work of teachers, principals and schools by providing timely, valid and reliable assessment data to improve student learning and achievement.