Fri | Oct 20, 2017

CXC joins Jamaica in reviewing exam protocols

Published:Tuesday | September 6, 2016 | 12:00 AMJovan Johnson
Dr Maurice Smith, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education.

The Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) has reportedly joined Jamaican authorities in reviewing examination administration protocols over foul-ups involving two local schools that left more than 60 students without their grades for the May/June Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations.

Dr Maurice Smith, permanent secretary in the education ministry, said the CXC has committed to a process of review following a meeting on Friday involving Glenroy Cumberbatch, the head of the Barbados-based institution.

"All parties will be reviewing their protocols," Smith told The Gleaner.

He added: "We talked about the issues as have been reported and that we needed to review the protocols between and among the ministry, the Overseas Examinations Commission (OEC), CXC and the schools themselves. That position was supported, endorsed, and all parties committed to doing what needs to be done in the best interest of our students."

Smith did not give a timeline for the completion of the reviews, but has previously indicated that any review has to be speedily done so implementation can be carried out early in the school year, which began yesterday.

Already, Ruel Reid, the education minister, has announced that a computer system will be implemented this school year to monitor CXC's deadlines and schools' compliance.

COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN

The reviews were ordered after a Gleaner story on August 25 brought to light the situation of almost 40 students of Penwood High School, St Andrew, who received ungraded scores in six CSEC subjects because samples of their school-based assessments were not submitted by a July 31 deadline.

The ministry, which learnt of the situation through the newspaper report, ordered an investigation which has so far highlighted a communication breakdown between the school and the OEC, the arm of the ministry that administers overseas exams in Jamaica.

The ministry also appealed to the CXC which, after initially refusing, relented and accepted the late SBA samples, triggering a process for the students to get their grades possibly later this week.

Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry has called for the school and OEC officials to be held accountable for the bungling.

More than a week after the Penwood situation came to light, news emerged that 27 students of Denbigh were ungraded in their English literature exam because their scripts could not be found.

The ministry on Friday said the scripts have since been located and the students will get their grades this week.

When asked, however, for the explanation given by the CXC registrar as to why the scripts could not be found, Smith said: "Out of respect for our discussions today (Friday), I will not be able to answer."

He said the details of the two cases will be made public when the final reports are submitted.

jovan.johnson@gleanerjm.com