x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Large numbers still need extra English tuition before university

Only 13 of every 100 students at MoE curriculum schools score well enough to bypass remedial classes.

Results of federal university entrance exams yesterday showed there is a long way to go before most youngsters will leave school ready to go straight to university. Only 13 per cent of applicants to federal universities scored more than 180 in the Common Educational Proficiency Assessment (Cepa) exam, the score required to have a chance of bypassing remedial English courses.

Of the 29,502 Grade 12 students who sat Cepa English, which is used as an admissions and placement test for federal higher education institutions and as the second-term English exam for Grade 12 students in Ministry of Education (MoE) curriculum schools, just 73 per cent achieved 126, or 60 per cent, well under the achievement of their peers in private, non-MoE cirriculum schools. Dr Annie Brown, associate director of the Assessment and Professional Development Department at the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, said there had been significant gains in achievement over the years.

"Certainly over the three years that we have been running professional development and Grade 12 students have been working toward Cepa, we have seen a mass increase in achievement," Dr Brown said. "There is still a long way to go in terms of the gaps between what students are leaving school with and what the institutions require for students to go straight in. There are still a lot of students requiring foundation."

Dr Brown said she expected the number of students passing would increase over the coming years. Of the 15,739 applicants to federal universities, 11,967, or 76 per cent, scored 150 or more, the level required to qualify for degree programmes with a foundation year, down from 78 per cent last year. A report released last month by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority suggested that teaching methodology might be behind low English-language attainment in schools using the MoE curriculum.

"In public schools students' skills in speaking, reading and writing English need to be improved," the report concluded. It found that English-language teachers in state schools were sometimes not the "best role models" because they did not speak the language fluently. The report also concluded that not enough time was spent practising the language. * The National