In a tone of voice that was equal parts authoritative and optimistic, Dr. Nerissa Bretania Underwood promised: "There will be changes at DOE". The superintendent of public education drilled down into the numbers, assessing how Guam's pupils rank nationwide. She told KUAM News, "Our 1st graders as always have done very well, and they have demonstrated that. And our 12th graders have also done very well. But the struggles have a tendency to occur right around 2nd grade, and we've seen that over the previous years."
Overall, Guam public schools demonstrated low levels of mastery in mathematics and spelling, but positive results for reading, science and social studies. The data inferred how historically Guam students in public schools perform brilliantly when first starting school, but then rapidly taper off, picking up their scores again when at the high school level.
Essentially, different generations of students are performing at the same level over time. Dr. Underwood gave some insight on the reasons for this trend. "Parents are really involved during the first two years of the student's education. And then they tend to decrease their involvement as the child gets older. So we're looking at that and we're encouraging the parents to remain more involved," Underwood added.
But the lone bright spot - and what for many may be a surprising discovery - was that despite the litany of problems experienced by JFK High over the last year, that school was the only program to rank above the national average in certain subjects. Underwood attributes this to the Islanders' dynamic leadership team headed by Ken Chargualaf.
"His instructional leadership, made up of teachers, really concentrated on the curriculum, taking a look at the data that students generated and focused their efforts. I believe it was a collective effort among the stakeholders there and I'm just so proud of what they've done," she proclaimed.
Test results for the island's elementary and middle schools are still being compiled over the weekend, so expect the report to be ready for public review early next week.