Tue | Sep 25, 2018

CXC must not sacrifice quality

Published:Saturday | August 18, 2018 | 12:10 AM


Let me be very blunt and say that I hope that the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) is not, as a marketing tool, lowering its standards in order to pander to the demands of students while trying to remain relevant.

I am particularly wary of the organisation's claim of recording better results not only in Jamaica but across the Caribbean. CXC should not sacrifice student quality on the altar of expediency - if that is what is happening.

Over the years, I have noticed that there has been a gradual watering down of the difficulty level of mathematics in particular. Whenever it is discovered that students (and teachers) are shying away from certain test items over a period, rather than utilising strategies that ensure that students study these topics, they are unceremoniously dropped from the syllabus and the examination.

This is a tragedy for the region, because earth geometry, which was removed some time ago, was a topic that forced students to think and to expand their spatial skills.




When current students are compared with those of earlier years or even those of the GCE era, the difference is too obvious.

Now I am not advocating for difficult exams in order to give students a hard time, but I think that we must be aware that students are being prepared for adult life and for higher learning. One year I gave some grade 11 students some GSAT exam items and the result was that many failed. I have also seen students who have 'passed' English language being unable to write a good application letter, not to mention construct a resume or fill out an application form. This is not acceptable.

We want a lot of students passing the exams, but quality should not be sacrificed in the process.