–says satisfied with its 2020 services, will only respond to official queries from Ministries of Education across the Caribbean
REGISTRAR and CEO of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), Dr. Wayne Wesley, has effectively absolved the governing body of any wrongdoing, by declaring that it is satisfied with the level of service provided to students, even in the face of widespread backlash from stakeholders all across the region.
He did so during a virtual press conference held on Friday to address the Caribbean-wide situation, whereby students who wrote the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations this year are reporting unusual grades. He ‘side-stepped’ questions on the weighting and scoring method utilized by the Council to grade its modified 2020 examinations.
Addressing the issue from the CXC’s perspective during the press conference, Dr. Wesley said that, notwithstanding the modifications, the examination would have undergone to accommodate the fallout from COVID-19 by removing certain components of it, the grading system remained the same as in previous years.
He would, however, give no clear answers on how the scores were redistributed, and conveyed that the Council will only be dealing with official queries sent it by the respective education ministries of the various countries.
“Without getting into specifics, we have already offered to provide the MoE with details of any area of particular concern,” Dr. Wesley said. “Those details will be shared, so they can see what went into and why the results are the way they are. I can only respond to information that I can validate. I cannot speak to something I cannot validate,” was all he was prepared to offer as he was repeatedly questioned by journalists about the ongoing situation.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which effected school closures across the Caribbean since March, the Council delayed its customary May/June examinations, and, instead, administered them in July/August, modifying them to exclude the regular Paper Two component.
Customarily, students are scored in the exams, based on their performance in a multiple-choice Paper One, the Paper Two, and pre-exam School-Based Assessments (SBAs) or internal Assessments. Each component accounts for a separate percentage of the student’s overall score.
On Friday, Dr. Wesley refused to explain how the percentage was redistributed this year, given the omission of Paper Two. He also said that he would not agree that there were any anomalies in the process this year.
“We are very much pleased,” he said, adding: “Yes, I am satisfied with the service of our approach this year; it was always with the students in mind. I am satisfied.”
This comes even as the Ministry of Education (MoE) in Guyana wrote the Council on Thursday saying that it was dissatisfied, given the number of complaints being received from students. The Ministries of Education of other Caribbean nations have also registered their concerns with the Council’s 2020 exams.
Dr. Wesley, however, said that, thus far, only two Ministries have officially reached out to the Council seeking clarification, but that he would not name the countries. Dr. Westley said that, notwithstanding the unprecedented outcry by the Caribbean students, the CXC will only be dealing with the situation, based on official reports, of which the Council has only received a few.
Wesley said that all he would offer to the students is that they make official reports about their qualms.
“We have done all our internal checks; that is what I can respond to you about these issues,” Dr. Wesley relayed.
He, however, noted that the Council has not given any consideration to waiving the US$30 fee that students are required to pay if they want a review of their results.
ALL’S NOT WELL
It was last Tuesday that CXC officially released the results of its CSEC and CAPE examinations, and, shortly thereafter, students began to report that all was not right with the grades they were seeing.
Here in Guyana, students of Queen’s College and The Bishops’ High school, on Thursday, staged protests outside of the Ministry of Education’s Examinations Division in the Camp Street compound of the very Queen’s College. The students had the support of their parents, teachers, and their respective schools, as well as the government.
Following Friday’s press conference, many students say that the response from the CXC officials leaves much to be desired.
“CXC kept on going around the bush with their answers; it is contradictory to a very extreme extent, and being grossly dishonest to say everything is in order and there is no problem. I have simply lost all faith and trust in this profit-based organisation which shows little regard for our actual education,” commented a student of the Ardenne High School in Kingston, Jamaica.
Others say CXC has now left them with even more questions than answers.
“I’m just more confused about CXC’s operation now more than ever. I’m appalled at what I listened to in that press conference; the amount of dodged questions was astounding,” expressed Zane Ramotar, of Queen’s College here in Guyana.
“The Registrar maintained that there were no changes to the weighting; he said that it’s the same weight as mandated by the syllabus. However, when confronted with evidence which clearly showed that the syllabi have weight attached to the Paper Two, he just ignored it, and maintained that the weighting has not been changed,” he added.
The CXC review process ends on October 23, following which the official results for the 2020 exams are scheduled to begin being released from November 6, following any reviews.