NASSAU, Bahamas — The results of the Rigby Reads Diagnostic Test show that more than 80 percent of Grade Two public school students are reading at or above their grade level, Minister of Education the Hon. Carl Bethel said at the Minister’s Literacy Awards Primary Division Ceremony Thursday.

This year, primary students in Grades Two, Four and Five took the test, which is an internationally acclaimed diagnostic test that provides a detailed report of students’ learning strengths and weaknesses.

Mr. Bethel said the Rigby Reads Diagnostic Test allows the Ministry of Education to standardise the assessment of reading levels throughout The Bahamas, so that the Ministry is able to determine the uniformity and discrepancies in the reading levels of students in public school students throughout the country.

“By assessing our students’ strengths and weaknesses in the classroom, we are able to respond to their needs,” he said. “Teachers are then able to place students in appropriate instructional groups and determine the critical skills that they need to emphasise in reading.

The Minister added, “Students’ progress is monitored from year-to-year because they are tested each year.”

He said that last year, the Rigby Reads Diagnostic Test was only administered to students in Grade Two. But this year, the testing population was expanded to include students in Grades Four and Five with a total of 11,730 students participating in the assessment.

Mr. Bethel said the Ministry of Education has sought for years to establish a programme to recognise and honour students at the primary level for their achievement in Literacy.

“We believe that this Literacy Programme today provides that opportunity to highlight students for their outstanding achievement in literacy,” he noted. Mr. Bethel said Grade Two students were assessed in the areas of Visual Discrimination, Auditory Discrimination, Letter Recognition, Sounds-Letters and Consonants.

Comprehension was the most challenging area for students for both years but the Minister said there was an improvement of three percentage points. He explained that students in Grades Four and Five were assessed in the areas of Sounds-Letters Consonants, Sound Letter Vowels, Vocabulary, Comprehension and Fluency.

Grades Four students performed best in the area of Letter Consonants and Grade Five students performed best in the area of Vocabulary.

Mr. Bethel said the challenging area for both of these grade levels were the Sound-Letters Vowels; and at all levels, the females consistently outperformed the males. He said the Ministry of Education is looking at more than a “band-aid” approach to the illiteracy problem in the nation.

“We believe that the results of the Rigby Roads Diagnostic Test allow us to take steps to implement programmes and instructions that will counteract the challenges our students encounter in reading,” Mr. Bethel said.

“I am proud of the fact that we have already introduced initiatives and strategies that will move us forward in the area of reading and ultimately the entire spectrum of learning.”

Students who achieved the highest test scores: Christal Adderley; Daunte Bethel; Samantha Cash; Nnika Corbin; Derricka Ferguson; Ajah Higgs; Midjina Jose; Ashlee Major; Treyvine Neymour; Cassidy Rolle; Kamrin Roker; Khyree Rolle; Shaquel Seymour; Brenton Taylor; Alia Wilson; Shannon Albury; Paige Davis; Micah Kelly; Tinisha Miller; Asia Rolle; Richea Springer; Dennison Underwood; Cecelia Cartwright and David Johnson III.