Writing skills in primary schools worsening, Maltese examiners complain

A benchmark exam report on the performance of primary schoolchildren has complained that kids are "scribbling, not writing"

The report calls on teachers to revise “certain practices” like fill-in-the-blanks exercises which are not helping students in learning how to write full sentences
The report calls on teachers to revise “certain practices” like fill-in-the-blanks exercises which are not helping students in learning how to write full sentences

Careless presentation, undecipherable handwriting, and a lack of neatness have become recurrent problems among primary school pupils.

A benchmark exam report on the performance of primary schoolchildren has complained that kids are “scribbling, not writing”, with examiners unhappy about the way students try to cross out mistakes in the most careless of ways.

“It is a great pity that many students are scribbling not writing,” examiners said, lamenting that students are not being equipped with basic writing skills. “It seems that these basic skills are being neglected at primary level and many students are scribbling not writing.”

The report calls on teachers to revise “certain practices” like fill-in-the-blanks exercises which are not helping students in learning how to write full sentences.

Markers in the English exam were more nuanced, noticing that overall candidates seem to plan their writing tasks better than in previous years with more organised and detailed planning.

However, they also noted the following areas of concern: spelling and punctuation errors, incoherent and fragmented writing, misuse of tenses, limited vocabulary, haphazard use of memorised proverbs and idiomatic expressions, failure to follow instructions and lack of knowledge of the basic elements in story writing.

Girls outsmart boys in primary benchmark

The report shows that girls fare better than boys in English and Maltese while boys tend to perform better in Maths.

Moreover, underachieving boys tend to get significantly lower marks than underachieving girls in all three subjects.

The trend for girls to do better in most subjects except mathematics tallies with trends observed in later examinations like SEC.

A report on this year’s benchmark exam shows that in both Maltese and English, the top 25% of girls scored 79 or higher whilst the top 25% of boys scored 76 or higher. But in mathematics the top 25% of girls scored 85 or higher and boys scored 87 or higher. But boys were the most likely to get lower marks in all three subjects.

In Maltese, the bottom 25% of girls scored 59 or lower whilst the bottom 25% of boys scored 52 or lower. In English, the bottom 25% of girls scored 62 or lower whereas the bottom 25% of boys scored 57 or lower. In Mathematics, the bottom 25% of girls scored 57 or lower whereas the bottom 25% of boys scored 56 or lower.

Overall the benchmark report shows students performing marginally better in English than in Maltese and Maths, with the median mark in English being one mark higher (70) than that in the other two subjects (69).

A total of 3484 students in 86 schools participated in the main session of the 2018 end-of-primary benchmark. These included all 62 State primary schools, 20 Church schools and four independent schools.

 

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