Guyana gets CXC grades for subjects at 14 schools after free reviews

Minister of Education Priya Manickchand on Tuesday said that Guyana has received grades for subjects at 14 of 20 institutions after getting free-of-cost reviews.

The Minister explained that most of the 20 schools that had “ungraded” for certain subjects were due to the fact that the teachers and the Central Ministry failed in ensuring that the SBAs reached CXC or reached them correctly. “It was not the students’ fault; it was the way that they were delivered and submitted and that will not happen again so we have to be very clear on processes going forward,” she said.

While CXC has decided to reduce the cost of grade reviews from US$30 to US$15, she said the Ministry of Education succeeded in securing reviews for students from several schools across Guyana free of cost. “We have requested school-wide reviews and reviews for individual students once the school indicated to us that they believe that student could perform differently and those reviews have all been done for free,” she said.

Concerning the 2020 results, the Minister of Education indicated that CXC needed to share some of the blame because of the changes that had been made due to the coronavirus pandemic. “I don’t believe anything crookish was done if we want to speak frankly and I don’t even believe that there were mistakes made. I think what happened was that there was a shock to the system across the region…and that was not properly considered in the sitting of the exams and in the setting of the exams,” she said.

Ms. Manickchand said the lessons learnt from the regionwide concerns about the CSEC and CAPE grades is that no changes that are remarkably different should be done without warning and extensive training to teachers, students and parents. “Going forward, we have asked CXC to be very clear with how they mark, what is required of our teachers when they are reviewing SBAs, how it is they are weighting subjects and not just a vague that ‘it’s on the website’. Every teacher needs to know,” she said.

The Chairman of the CXC Board, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles this week cautioned teachers across the region against creating false expectations by telling students that their SBA grades were the final awards. CXC Registrar Dr. Wayne Wesley said based on what the 100 percent moderation of SBAs, due to COVID-19,  uncovered this year the regional examining body would continue to do so.

Minister Manickchand said Guyanese teachers would be held accountable for being too lenient in marking School Based Assessments (SBAs), even as she endorsed a decision by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) to moderate 100 percent of  those assignments.

“If we are marking accurately, then why should we care if it’s a hundred percent or five percent. It’s supposed to be done to the same standard all the time as though it will always be a hundred percent moderation so I do (support it),” she said.

Manickchand praised the many Guyanese teachers for performing exceptionally well in teaching the CSEC and CAPE subjects, but she said many of their colleagues’ performance would come under scrutiny after “serious training and serious monitoring” by the Ministry of Education. “We have to start holding our service providers to a high level which is supposed to be expected. We are talking about people’s futures here and we can’t allow sloppy work,” she said.

She said Chief Education Officer Marcel Hutson was completing a system, in collaboration with the Assistant Chief Education Officer (Secondary) and the Examinations Division, that would ensure high quality of marking and sticking to the timetable to ensure schools make their submissions.

Students, teachers and parents in Guyana, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago had protested the grades that had been awarded for CSEC and CAPE exams, saying that they had not been in keeping with performance trends and expectations.

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