STUDENTS have been asked to adapt to the “new normal” in the blink of an eye.
Yet the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) seems unwilling or unable to match the lightning-speed reform they expect of the children whose fates they oversee.
In the wake of the controversy that greeted last month’s release of Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) and Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) results, we called on CXC and state officials to rethink the practice of final examinations and to embrace continuous assessment more.
In light of further bungling by CXC reported over the weekend in relation to these same results, increased distress on the part of parents and students, as well as the length of time it is taking the regional body to resolve the issues, we are today constrained to return to these matters.
CXC was established in 1972, with a vision to provide expertise in syllabus and curriculum development with a view to bolstering standards. While various initiatives have come and gone, the council has been a relatively bright spot in the project of regional integration. Sixteen countries have subscribed.
After almost half a century, it was not unreasonable to expect CXC to apply its wealth of experience when it came to the unprecedented circumstances of 2020. Instead, the body has seemed strangely out of step.
First came its unsympathetic position last month after many queries were raised. CXC officials doggedly resisted calls for a review, so much so that regional ministers of education had to intervene.
An "independent" review has taken place and recommendations been made. But even as these were being studied, reports emerged that students’ preliminary CAPE grades were changed without notice last Friday. No explanation was given.
Parents on Monday protested outside the Red House, complaining about CXC’s failure to release information about its weighing system. And while CXC extended its query period and halved the fee for doing so, many were not satisfied by such moves.
The frustration is all the more understandable given the length of time that has elapsed since the initial release of results. One month, in these times, can feel like an eternity. Especially for anxious families.
While few could have predicted the challenges of 2020, CXC should have had contingency plans to deal with situations in which in-person examinations were rendered impossible.
Almost all of the countries that subscribe to it fall within the hurricane belt. Did the council never develop strategies to manage assessment in the wake of natural disasters like floods, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes?
While CXC demurs, the world moves on.
On Monday, new form one students started school. Unlike the regional body, these students will have no choice but to settle down fast.