Caribbean Examinations Council Board – Trinidad Guardian

I ap­peal to you dur­ing this time of wide­spread un­ease to re­con­sid­er the de­ci­sion to pro­ceed with ex­am­i­na­tions in Ju­ly, 2020. Amid a glob­al pan­dem­ic and world­wide lock­down, the ex­pec­ta­tion that stu­dents and teach­ers must main­tain ex­am stan­dard per­for­mance lev­els is un­eth­i­cal and a dis­ser­vice to stake­hold­ers, many of whom face fu­ture re­al­i­ties al­most to­tal­ly con­tin­gent on ex­am re­sults.

First and fore­most, the CXC has dis­re­gard­ed their eth­i­cal re­spon­si­bil­i­ty con­cern­ing the wel­fare of both stu­dents and teach­ers. As the Caribbean com­mu­ni­ty cur­rent­ly faces mul­ti­tudes of tur­moil, with­in the im­me­di­ate di­men­sion of health and phys­i­cal safe­ty, to the eco­nom­ic im­pli­ca­tions of this pan­dem­ic, it is un­rea­son­able to jeop­ar­dise not on­ly the fu­ture but al­so the cur­rent well-be­ing of stake­hold­ers by pro­ceed­ing with ex­ams.

In ad­di­tion to cop­ing with the im­me­di­ate anx­i­ety, stress and dan­ger of COVID-19, any pre-ex­ist­ing prob­lems with­in the home such as do­mes­tic abuse, sub­stance abuse and oth­er men­tal health con­di­tions will be ex­ac­er­bat­ed in these times. This has al­ready been not­ed through­out the Caribbean.

Fur­ther­more, the sug­ges­tion that im­ple­ment­ing the on­line e-learn­ing plat­form will suf­fice to fin­ish the syl­labi and pre­pare stu­dents ad­e­quate­ly for ex­ams is in­sen­si­tive and un­re­al­is­tic.

While teach­ers and stu­dents alike are un­der pres­sure to ad­just to a to­tal­ly new form of learn­ing un­der the added ex­pec­ta­tion of main­tain­ing ex­am stan­dards, so­cio-eco­nom­ic di­vides will be great­ly com­pound­ed and re­flect­ed in the ac­cord­ing re­sults.

This sys­tem is im­ple­ment­ed un­der the false as­sump­tion that all stu­dents and teach­ers have the re­sources at their dis­pos­al and a home en­vi­ron­ment con­ducive to ac­com­mo­dat­ing the de­mands of on­line learn­ing and self teach­ing.

A great dis­ser­vice has been done to stu­dents with over­seas con­di­tion­al uni­ver­si­ty of­fers which are con­tin­gent on ex­am re­sults, or those about to en­ter the work­force. As the com­pe­ti­tion for uni­ver­si­ty and work­force place­ments oc­curs on a glob­al scale, CXC can­di­dates are com­pet­ing with stu­dents sit­ting in­ter­na­tion­al qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

To pro­ceed with ex­am­i­na­tions is dis­tinct­ly an­ti-com­pet­i­tive, as ex­ams with every ma­jor ex­am­i­na­tion board in the world (in­clud­ing In­ter­na­tion­al Bac­calau­re­ate, A-Lev­els, GCSE and In­ter­na­tion­al A-Lev­els) have been can­celled. The can­di­dates who will now be us­ing pre­dict­ed grades are ef­fec­tive­ly un­con­cerned with added aca­d­e­m­ic pres­sure amid this pe­ri­od, while Caribbean stu­dents must pre­form to ex­am stan­dards for the same uni­ver­si­ty place­ments, cre­at­ing a bla­tant­ly un­even play­ing field to the detri­ment of the re­gion’s schol­ars.

Fur­ther­more, the sug­ges­tion that stu­dents will on­ly com­plete Pa­per One (with the ex­cep­tion of many sub­jects, where stu­dents are still ex­pect­ed to sit the full ex­am—up to four pa­pers, is un­fair as this ex­am­in­ing board has a pol­i­cy of nev­er re­leas­ing mul­ti­ple choice past pa­pers.

For sub­jects such as Lit­er­a­tures in Eng­lish, this pa­per is not on­ly new, but com­plete­ly un­seen and to the dis­re­gard of every set text stud­ied through­out the year. For sub­jects such as Lit­er­a­tures in Eng­lish, stu­dents will com­plete an “un­seen pa­per”, such that no pre-ex­ist­ing knowl­edge is test­ed.

With stu­dents on­ly grant­ed one sam­ple pa­per, there is ef­fec­tive­ly no way to pre­pare for this ex­am. The re­sults of this are a com­plete­ly in­ac­cu­rate re­flec­tion of the stu­dent’s knowl­edge of the syl­labus con­tent as well as the ca­pa­bil­i­ty with­in the sub­ject.

It is with great dis­tress and anx­i­ety that I ap­peal to CXC, the Hon. Prime Min­is­ter and the Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion to pri­or­i­tize the well-be­ing of stu­dents and teach­ers in this in­creas­ing­ly dif­fi­cult time.

The stakes for can­di­dates are ex­treme­ly high and the re­al­i­ty of in­ter­na­tion­al com­pe­ti­tion means that the de­ci­sion to pro­ceed with ex­ams while all ma­jor ex­am boards have not is a dis­ser­vice to Caribbean stu­dents.

Mech­a­nisms such as pre­dict­ed grades must be im­ple­ment­ed for eth­i­cal pur­pos­es. An al­ter­na­tive for CAPE is the use of pre­dict­ed grades for Unit Two stu­dents who have al­ready dis­played their ca­pac­i­ty to pre­form in Unit One, and have uni­ver­si­ty dead­lines, while the Unit One stu­dents may be able to sit ex­ams at an ad­just­ed date.

Please note that this is not writ­ten with dis­re­gard to­wards the role of learn­ing dur­ing this pe­ri­od. But there is a salient dis­so­nance re­gard­ing the im­pact of “learn­ing” and ex­am per­for­mance on men­tal health and well-be­ing. It is this pres­sure which the CXC has care­less­ly dis­re­gard­ed.

I speak on be­half of as­pir­ing stu­dents and hard-work­ing teach­ers with trust that the most just de­ci­sion will be made in good faith. The ac­tions that you take dur­ing this pe­ri­od of so­ci­etal dis­tress and trau­ma re­flect­ing on this ex­am­in­ing body for years to come, it is es­sen­tial to max­imise stake­hold­er wel­fare.


Stu­dent call­ing for jus­tice

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