Port of Spain South MP Keith Scotland has joined his daughter Adela in her Justice for CAPE campaign. The 18-year-old upper six St Francois College student launched the social media campaign days after receiving Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) results.
The Caribbean Examination Council (CXC), which is responsible for administering the CAPE and Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations, released the results on Tuesday last week.
In a phone interview with Newsday on Sunday, Scotland, an attorney, said he is in the process of compiling information on “numerous students” who have come forward with complaints against CXC.
He said he is consulting with a local senior counsel and foreign Queen’s counsel on the matter and will be issuing a formal response to the CXC board on Monday. He said the action being taken is based on “legitimate concerns” from students across the region.
“We have seen discrepancies and we would like them addressed.”
Adela added, “I had spoken to him about pursuing legal action, but when other students from other schools started to have the same concerns as myself, I was wondering if it were possible to help all of them and he said yes, we could file a class action (suit).”
Adela said the students who have reached out expressed concerns about going into the exam with high internal assessment scores (ranging from 50 out of a total of 60) and receiving low grades, between three and four. An acceptable grade for CAPE ranges from one to five.
“We are very confused as to what happened,” said Adela. She said the methodology used to grade the exams is in question. She said she spoke to one student who received a high grade of 55 out of 60 and still received a failing grade of seven in one of his subjects.
She said students are also frustrated by having to pay to have queries and reviews done. “That shouldn’t happen, because the problem is obviously large scale and CXC is still charging.”
In a release issued on her Facebook page, Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said she attended a virtual meeting with the CXC board and six other ministers of education across the region to discuss the complaints received by numerous parents and students. She said one of the issues discussed was the methodology used to grade the exams.
“Assurances were given by CXC that matters advanced by ministers for further investigation at the school level will be dealt with expeditiously,” Gadsby-Dolly said.
Adela said she is pleased with the ministry’s response to the matter. “All of us are really proud of our ministry for reaching out. Our only concern is, will CXC be willing?”
She said the council said everything went smoothly, and nothing is wrong but that is not the case. “We hope that our ministry will be effective in getting that information.”
A concerned mother posted of (attorney) Scotland's involvement in a Facebook post to a group named Re-mark and Re-issue CAPE June 2020 Results. The post said Scotland was willing to take on the case without charge. The group has close to 700 members.
Denyse Ewe started the group after CXC registrar Dr Wayne Wesley denied having received complaints about the results.
“We will fight for our children,” said Ewe. She said the registrar floated around the issue of the methodology used to grade the exams. “There must be transparency.”
She said Scotland’s involvement is not the first line of action. She said schools have already taken the right channels, writing letters to the ministry and the registrar. Parents of students who have been affected by their grades are now turning to Scotland for additional support. “He is a very well-respected lawyer and I’m sure he has a very far reach.”
She said Scotland will prepare a pre-action protocol letter.
“Depending on CXC's response, then we will know what is needed. Hopefully, we will not have to go that route.”
Ewe said she is confident Gadsby-Dolly will continue to pursue the matter and get the answers they are seeking. “Our new minister is a very dynamic woman and I have no doubt that she will pursue this to the end and ensure justice for the children under her care. I see her as a strong leader, a mother and a beacon of hope.”
In addition to Adela Scotland’s efforts, there are also two change.org petitions circulating regionally: one named CXC's Inaccurate CAPE Results which has garnered over 16,500 signatures up to Sunday afternoon, and another named We Demand a Review of the 2020 CXC Results, with over 18,000 signatures.