Students sitting the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) Exam in 2019 will be taking the exam in March instead of May.
Education Minister Anthony Garcia made the announcement yesterday during a press conference at the Education Towers, Port-of-Spain.
Garcia said that, on Thursday, Cabinet made the decision to change the date of the exam to the last week of the second term, which was usually in March, as it was more feasible and cost effective.
However, the change would be put into effect in the 2018 to 2019 academic year so that current Standard Five students would not be affected and would sit their exam as usual in May 2018.
Giving a brief history of the exam he said it began as the Common Entrance Exam in 1961 and changed to the SEA Exam in 2001. Both exams were held at the end of the second term. However, when the Continuous Assessment Component (CAC) was introduced in 2012, the date changed to May to give students a better chance of improving their performance.
“However, when we looked at the performance of the students over the period 2012 to 2017 and we did our analysis, we found that there was no fundamental change or improvement in the performance of our students.”
Other reasons for the change was given by Chief Education Officer Harrilal Seecharan.
He said since CAC was removed the additional time was no longer required. He said the May date created a number of challenges for the Ministry. For example, preparation for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE) started around the same time as SEA. “It created additional demands on the Ministry of Education for resources, for exam personnel, storage, and managing that process.”
Seecharan added that holding the exam in March would allow for the people who mark the exam papers to be available during the Easter vacation instead of having to take them away from schools during the term. It would allow more time to process and place students so that people would not have to work extremely long hours. Results could also be released earlier and it would allow more time for the secondary school registration process, review of results, and transfer requests.
Garcia concluded the press conference with a plea to stakeholders for support and asked that they deal with any problems with mutual respect.
“We in education recognise that we can not do it alone,” Garcia said. “We need the active support of our stakeholders. And as a result, parents, teachers, TTUTA and all those stakeholders and all the actors in education, we are appealing to all of them. Let us come together to work in the interest of our students.
Despite Garcia’s call, education stakeholders said they were completely unaware that the Ministry was considering the change.
National Parent Teacher Association president Zina Ramatali told Newsday her organisation was not aware that changing the date of SEA was on the Ministry’s agenda and that she would have to discuss the matter with her membership.
Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) president Lynsley Doodhai said he was surprised to hear the Ministry’s announcement to revert to the SEA Examination to March because there was absolutely no consultation with TTUTA.
“TTUTA represents the teachers in the Primary School system who prepare students to write the SEA examination. It would have been a better option to hear the views of the teachers on this particular issue.
He added that the Ministry held a lengthy meeting with TTUTA on Thursday but they were not given any indication that the Ministry was considering such a change.