Education minister, CXC to discuss alleged discrepancies

EDUCATION Minister Fayval Williams says a meeting has been set with the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), Jamaica to further discuss alleged discrepancies with regards to the results of the Caribbean Secondary Examination Council (CSEC) and the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) released last week.

This follows a recent meeting between the council and ministries of education across the region, Williams said, after reports of widespread anomalies emerged concerning thousands of grades returned to students.

The meeting is scheduled to be held within the coming days.

“We’ve also indicated to students who are having the issues with these anomalies, rather than posting it on social media you have a formal course of action that you can take. Take the appeal to the Overseas Examinations Council. They will gather all these appeals; they will aggregate them and bring them to the Ministry of Education. We will, as the ministry, be in communication with CXC to present and argue the case for our students,” Williams told Parliament yesterday.

She was responding to a concern raised by Opposition spokesperson on education Dr Angela Brown Burke, who noted that the minister, in her statement to the House, did not address the matter in terms of the way forward with the council.

“We believe the issue has merit, so we are taking this up on behalf of our students that have come forward to say that they are having an issue with the grade that they have received,” Williams stated.

In light of the novel coronavirus pandemic, CXC made changes to how exams were administered, abandoning its three-component structure.

Students were instead assessed using their Paper 01 (multiple choice) grades, along with grades from their School-Based Assessments (SBAs). Candidates of modern languages, human and social biology and visual arts were required to sit additional components.

Traditionally, students would sit multiple choice and essay exams in addition to SBAs submitted.

“So students who would have done their School-Based Assessment would have been graded by their teachers. The teachers would have indicated what their preliminary grade is. They would have gone into the other segment of the exam with that in the back of their minds, and so they have some sense of what their grades should be. In getting these grades from CXC, looking at them and realising they are different from what they had anticipated, that is where the issue comes in,” the minister said, adding that other anomalies have been identified which will be brought to the council.

“We will be taking up the case on behalf of the students of Jamaica, so they are not left out there on their own at all. They are too important to be left with this issue,” she added.

Williams is among several education ministers across the region who have written to CXC requesting an investigation into what has been described as “widescale anomalies” with the released grades, although registrar and chief executive officer, Dr Wayne Wesley, has disagreed with the assessment.

In a statement yesterday, chairman of the Barbados-based examining body, Sir Hilary Beckles, announced that an independent review team is expected to begin work shortly to review the “specific challenges” that have caused widespread concerns across the region, following the preliminary release of its July-August examinations results.

A report is to be presented by the team for discussion with relevant stakeholders.

Last week, Dr Wesley told journalists that the regional examination body was satisfied with the results and did not agree that there were anomalies.

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