PUPILS who query their marks in the recent Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) and Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams administered by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) could end up being short-changed, according to a retired teacher.
Also a concerned parent, the retired teacher who maintains very close links with former colleagues, told Newsday of changes made last year by the CXC which could undermine pupil queries. She said unlike in past years when a query would be handled by the CXC completely re-marking the pupil’s exam scripts, as of last year and continuing this year the CXC no longer performs a full and fresh evaluation but rather merely does a tally of marks awarded for the different sections to ensure the numbers were correctly added.
In past years, if a review found errors in the original tallying of marks, this would lead to an automatic full re-evaluation of the exam script, she said. She said this change was the subject of a circular sent from the CXC to the Ministry of Education and then to school principals in April 2016.
“The query process is now that they just add up your marks. You still pay your 30 Barbados dollars, but just for a tally.” She said she’s not sure many parents know of these changes, but there is a lot of concern among teachers.
The parent said in the past, the CXC had found when requests for a re-marking were made by pupils, only 15 per cent of re-evaluations ever resulted in a fresh mark being awarded.
“Maybe they felt it was a waste of time,” she said. “And maybe the change is part of their cost-cutting measures.” She said she was unsure if CXC now has an option for a pupil to pay a bit more to get a full evaluation done on their script.
The parent also expressed concern that pupils may be further disadvantaged by the CXC’s new e-marking of exam scripts. She said, previously teachers would go to marking centres such as in Barbados where they would cluster around tables and mark papers according to a supplied rubric or model answers, but in a spirit of interaction and collaboration that benefitted pupils. “If the markers found a trend that pupils were all interpreting a question in a particular way (different to the model answer), they would discuss it and perhaps say, ‘let’s give a mark for this’. This would lead to consistency. “However now it is all digitally marked by each marker at home with the rubric but without much collaboration.”
Education Minister Anthony Garcia told Newdsay he had heard of these concerns and will discuss all such matters when he meets schools principals this week. “If there is any validy, we’ll decide what to do,” he said. Garcia said the CXC is a prominent regional body whose integrity must be maintained, even if challenges must be overcome. Newsday could not reach CXC assistant registrar – public information and customer services Cleveland Sam for a response to these concerns.