After the Ministry of Education revealed their findings from a study they conducted, it was concluded that the average grade obtain by students leaving high school in The Bahamas, averaged a D grade. This news once again sparked another great debate among educators, potential employers and parents.
A common denominator in all the opinions expressed in the local dailies was that the level of education in the country is too low and perhaps the expectations in terms of student achievement are set too low.
Potential employers were very much concerned about the abilities of school leavers and whether or not they could be trained to fit into the workforce. They wondered if these “D” students would have any marketable skills.
The interesting thing about letter grades that are used to evaluate students is that their value is not necessarily the same in each learning institution. This means that in one school a C grade may be equivalent to 70%, while in another school if a student received a 70% he or she may receive a letter grade of C- or even a D+.
Therefore a visit to various primary schools, high schools and even tertiary level institutions would reveal that the numerical value and the letter values are not the same across the board as you go from school to school. So while someone may be getting a B in one school, someone receiving the same numerical value may end up with a C or even an A depending on which school you visit.
What the public needs to understand is that when the examiners at Testing and Evaluation designed the rubric for its various examinations, the D grade does in fact define the “average” person.
At this level, the candidate would need to have the basic skills or basic fundamental knowledge of the content or material. The student knows the subject area and can intelligently and logically respond on at least a comprehension and perhaps make moderate attempts at the application level. This student can also work independently will some supervision.
Understanding this then, an intelligent employer can see that a student achieving at least a D grade in a BGCSE subject has the ability to learn and can be trained. The letter grade that an individual receives on a report card or a national examination, only tells a portion of the story and does not fully define the student.
Anyone applying to colleges in the United States of America would have found this out. While your high school grades are considered in the application process, your involvement in activities outside the classroom is equally as important in some instances.
Similarly then, an employer looking to hire a high school graduate needs to know that the young man or woman first and foremost has potential. He needs to look at the big picture and see the positive attributes and gifts this young person could add to the business.
Reflecting on all of this discussion about the “D” grade, I could not help but think back to my own D grade experience. I received a D grade on my English GCE. My SAT scores were the average acceptable marks. Yet I graduated with a BA in English from a very reputable Catholic college in New England.
After graduating from college I spent a few years in Journalism before moving on to education, teaching English Language and Literature. I would never have been given the opportunity to begin my teaching career if the principal hadn’t looked passed my D grade. Yes, even with my college diploma in hand, he still wanted to see my GCE results.
But that D in English made me realize that I was not and would never be defined by a grade. I would learn as much as I could and apply whatever I learn at the right time. Regurgitating information back on a test paper is not the only way to test someone’s ability. At the end of the day, the practical, on the job training will produce the evidence of whether or not the individual has learned and to what degree he has learned.
I do hope that business owners will not define a student solely by that D grade. The truth is that the average person, the majority of people in any grouping will have the basic understanding of something. There are always only a few exceptional individuals in any given situation or setting.
Let’s be real about this. How many people in your office are top A grade individuals? If you look at each person in your group, I am sure the majority would be just average. They are doing what they need to do to collect a pay cheque at the end of the pay period. These persons have a good working knowledge of the job and can function with very little supervision.
Perhaps the Ministry of Education needs to publish the definitions or rubic that is used for each grade, so the general public can understand once and for all what these particular letter grades mean. Then, hopefully, we can end this debate once and for all.
About the author:
Joye Ritchie-Greene is an Educational Consultant, Writer and Martial Arts Instructor. She is the owner/operator of The Bahamas Martial Arts Academy; president of Time-Out Productions; and is also a columnist for the Freeport News. She has a B.A. in English and an M.S. in Human Resources, resides in Freeport, Grand Bahama with her husband and enjoys playing tennis. Joye can be reached at