Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) Disorder is a combination of physiological over-arousal, tension and somatic symptoms, along with worry, dread, and fear of failure.
And sometimes that all leads to catastrophising — children predicting a negative outcome and parents jumping to the conclusion that if there is a negative outcome, it would be a catastrophe.
We all know that these thoughts occur throughout the GSAT examination process and the time leading up to the results whether or not we are consciously or subconsciously measuring the child’s value based on a school placement.
Some argue that the underlying issue is the perceived lack of quality secondary schools. I say, “perceived”, because most persons want their children to attend the traditional schools that are supported by strong alumni.
However, if we actually look at this year’s list of top 31 performing schools in Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) published on the Gleaner on May 2, 2017, there are quite a bit that don’t fall into that category.
It is important to point out that the perception of a “lack of quality secondary schools” is not a totally justified.
There are schools succeeding because of the sheer willpower of the community — the teachers, parents and students — to reflect standards of quality.
School improvement is not impossible with strong leadership and commitment. I will go even further to suggest that no matter what school a child may be placed in, parental involvement and community support, with both kind and in-kind support, has the capacity to take any school to the next level.
Prescription 1 — Change your mindset
Becoming a part of a new school community isn’t just about what your child can get from the school, but also about what you and your child can do for the school. This is the reason schools like Immaculate Conception High School and Campion College remain the atop the school standings. These and other traditional high schools have strong, vibrant Parent/Teachers Associations (PTA) and alumni working tirelessly to ensure the schools remain at the top of the charts.
It is important that as a parent or guardian, you start to focus more on your child’s academic success versus the school they pass for. Your commitment is to ensure that your child, no matter where they are placed, is prepared with the skills and competencies to succeed in the 21st century.
If you child does get placed in a school that is not your choice, begin to get involved with their placement school. Look at what gaps exist; hold the teachers accountable; liaise with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information (MoEYI); and rally your fellow parents. Play your part in ensuring that this school also begins to develop a legacy for future generations to come. Help the school to develop strong legacies to live on through you and your child.
I am not saying that certain bureaucracies don’t exist and that changing school culture is easy, but the reality is, if we don’t do anything to hold our government, schools and educators more accountable; what will change?
Start with YOU, change your mindset.