More than half of the students who sat the Alternative Secondary Transition Education Programme, ASTEP test in the 2013-14 academic year failed to achieve a passing grade.

That’s according to the Auditor General, Pamela Munro Ellis.

ASTEP was set up in 2011 as a means for students who failed the Grade 4 Literacy Test to transition into the secondary school system.

Mrs. Munroe Ellis says less than 20-percent of students who were registered to sit the ASTEP in the review year, managed to achieve a passing grade.

She says that between 20 and 26% of those registered were absent from the test, while the remainder failed the test.

This means that at least 54% of the students who sat the ASTEP in the last school year failed to achieve a passing grade.

Meanwhile the Opposition Spokeswoman on Education, Kamina Johnson Smith says the programme is too important to be failing.

“The opposition is deeply concerned – by the high level of absenteeism and the exam results. It demonstrates a need for improved monitoring and analysis of the data brought to light by the AG but it also underscore the need for the programme itself, the need for parental support and for intervention at an earlier stage,” she added.

Senator Johnson-Smith is also calling for special attention to be given to the students who are failing repeatedly.

“What is clear is that there needs to be a second level of diagnosis; if it is that a student fail the grade four literacy & numeracy test 4 times, which is the criteria for entry to ASTEP, clearly they have issues. Their inability to pass the exams four times is indicative of larger problem. Certainly they need literary and numeracy intervention along with the broader curriculum support that they would need to transition into secondary schools,” she said.