Benchmark report says that students are ‘scribbling’ not writing

A report on the performance of children sitting for the benchmark exams in year six highlights major shortcomings with regards to the “presentation, calligraphy and neatness” of written work.

In the section dealing with the Maltese exam, the report goes on to say “it seems that these three qualities are being sidelined in primary schools.  It is disappointing that a number of students are scribbling not writing.”

The authors recommend that teachers focus more on writing skills and discourage the use of worksheets, since these do not require full sentences and therefore limit the effective development of writing skills.

Similar problems were noticed with regards to English.  While markers noticed fewer spelling and punctuation errors than in previous years, they also noted “unorganised planning that lacked detail, incoherent and fragmented writing, misuse of tenses, limited vocabulary, haphazard use of memorised proverbs and idiomatic expressions and failure to follow instructions.”

The report shows that students obtained their lowest mark in the writing component in both Maltese and English. Even in Maths, candidates scored higher marks in the mental rather than in the written component.

The report confirms that despite being the national language Maltese is more challenging to students than English and Mathematics.

The top 25% of candidates obtained a score of 75 or higher in Maltese, 83 or higher in English and 83 or higher in Mathematics. The middle 50% of candidates scored 67 or less in Maltese, 76 or less in English and 69 or less in Mathematics. The bottom 25% of the candidates scored 57 or less in Maltese, 64 or less in English, and 50 or less in Mathematics.

The report confirms 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 both English and Maltese, and fare slightly worse than girls in Maths.

A total of 3,571 students sat for the End of Primary Benchmark in 2017, made up of 1,852 males (52%) and 1,719 females (48%). This total amounted to 89% of the whole cohort of Year 6 children.

The report was issued by the Educational Assessment Unit  in the Ministry of Education.



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