MATH WHIZZES

94 Ar­denne High fourth-form stu­dents get grade one in CSEC

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY - Keisha.hill@glean­erjm.com

AR­DENNE HIGH School’s com­mit­ment to pro­vid­ing qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion was clearly demon­strated with 101 of its grade-10 stu­dents achiev­ing suc­cess in the Caribbean Sec­ondary Ed­u­ca­tion Cer­tifi­cate (CSEC) math­e­mat­ics exam this year. Ninety-four of the stu­dents achieved grade one passes, and 88 earned straight-A pro­files.

Ann Ma­son, head of the math­e­mat­ics de­part­ment at the St An­drew school, said the im­pres­sive pass rate af­firmed the in­sti­tu­tion’s ob­jec­tives of en­sur­ing that ev­ery stu­dent is given the op­por­tu­nity to ex­cel. The math­e­mat­ics pro­gramme is in its fourth year. There was sim­i­lar suc­cess in the past three years. Ma­son in­di­cated that in 2015, fifty-eight grade 10 stu­dents also per­formed above av­er­age with sim­i­lar re­sults.

“When my stu­dents ask me what [will hap­pen] if they get a grade two, I say to them I don’t ex­pect any of them to get a grade two. They are so pre­pared that we are sur­prised if they do get a grade two be­cause they nor­mally get grade ones,” Ma­son said.

AD­DI­TIONAL CLASSES

She ex­plained that four years ago when the Caribbean Ad­vanced Pro­fi­ciency Ex­am­i­na­tion (CAPE) syl­labus was changed, mean­ing that stu­dents had to sit ad­di­tional math­e­mat­ics be­fore they could do CAPE math­e­mat­ics, Ar­denne High started of­fer­ing ad­di­tional math­e­mat­ics classes to stu­dents, af­ter school.

The in­sti­tu­tion brought in a teacher who worked with the stu­dents. By 2013, Ma­son said, the sub­ject be­came part of the reg­u­lar school timetable. The stu­dents in grade 10, once com­plet­ing the math­e­mat­ics syl­labus, sit the CSEC ex­am­i­na­tions. This, she said, has al­lowed for the stu­dents to pur­sue the ad­di­tional math­e­mat­ics sub­ject in grade 11 for the re­quired en­try into sixth form.

“So ad­vanced are our stu­dents that we cur­rently have a group that sat CAPE Unit One math­e­mat­ics in grade 11 with eight dis­tinc­tions. Cur­rently, we have one stu­dent in grade 11 do­ing CAPE Unit 1 and 2. For our cur­rent grade 10, we have 99 stu­dents who will take CSEC at the next sit­ting,” Ma­son said.

For Na­dine Mol­loy, prin­ci­pal at the in­sti­tu­tion, it is ex­pected that stu­dents will do well. “When you look at the num­bers that pass, the co­hort is far more than many other schools. We do not fo­cus too much on the rank­ings, but we en­sure that we get our stu­dents to achieve,” Mol­loy said.

“We do not even rank our stu­dents in their classes. We en­cour­age them to aim for the high­est and im­plore them to be bet­ter to­mor­row than they are today,” Mol­loy added.

In any given year, the num­ber of stu­dents sit­ting ex­ter­nal ex­am­i­na­tions stands at 320, with only seven stu­dents achiev­ing be­low av­er­age in 2014. “Stu­dents who want to sit ex­tra sub­jects can do so af­ter school. We en­cour­age them to do them here in­stead of go­ing else­where, so we know and can keep abreast of what they are do­ing,” Mol­loy said.

Ar­denne High School has a stu­dent pop­u­la­tion of 2,027, with 105 full-time and six part­time teach­ers. The stu­dents, Mol­loy said, are fo­cused on their school­work.

“Over­seas uni­ver­si­ties come to us. We do not nec­es­sar­ily have to go to univer­sity re­cruit­ment fairs. Fif­teen years ago we won the Penn Re­lay Shield, and that’s the only time we have won, but Penn State Univer­sity vis­ited us re­cently to re­cruit our stu­dents be­cause they do so well,” Mol­loy said.

HIS­TORY OF EX­CEL­LENCE

Re­garded by some as the best sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tion in Ja­maica, Ar­denne High has con­sis­tently per­formed ex­tremely well in ex­am­i­na­tions reg­u­lated by the Caribbean Ex­am­i­na­tions Coun­cil (CXC). The in­sti­tu­tion is best known for its high aca­demic stan­dards, among the high­est in the Caribbean, and for its achieve­ments in the per­form­ing arts and sev­eral sports, most no­tably bas­ket­ball.

In 2011, the school’s over­all pass rate for CSEC was 97 per cent. The school has won Tele­vi­sion Ja­maica’s Schools’ Chal­lenge Quiz com­pe­ti­tion six times (1973, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2013, 2015) ahead of Wolmer’s Boys’ School and Munro Col­lege with five wins, and trail­ing Kingston Col­lege with 10 wins.

“We get ev­ery kind of schol­ar­ship be­cause our stu­dents are able to bal­ance their aca­demics and co-cur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties. We en­sure that they de­liver work that is above stan­dard,” Ma­son said.

Kevon Reynolds, one of the high achiev­ers who achieved grade one in math­e­mat­ics at the re­cent sit­ting, said he prac­tised a lot with his mother, who is also a math­e­mat­ics teacher.

“I worked hard and I prac­tised ev­ery day. I made sure I slept well the night be­fore the ex­am­i­na­tions and not to over­work the day be­fore. My mother checked the re­sults and she came and hugged me and I felt re­ally proud,” Reynolds said. Ann Ma­son, head, math­e­mat­ics de­part­ment, Ar­denne High School, St An­drew. Na­dine Mol­loy, prin­ci­pal, Ar­denne High School.

PA­TRICK PLANTER/PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

From left: Romeo Dun­can, Wil­liam H. Brown, Shereena Deer and Jaida Jor­dine work their math prob­lems in the Ar­denne High School li­brary. They are among a group of stu­dents who suc­cess­fully sat the Caribbean Sec­ondary Ed­u­ca­tion Cer­tifi­cate math­e­mat­ics ex­am­i­na­tion this year.

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