OFFICIALS FROM the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) will be using an adjusted grading system for examination centres affected by the recent spate of violence and unrest in Kingston and St Andrew.
According to Pro-registrar of the CXC, Glenroy Cumberbatch, this grading protocol has been a part of the council's policy for more than 30 years, and the resulting grade is one that the Council says is intended to reflect an appreciation of the challenges of affected students. In a press release from its headquarters in Barbados, CXC officials said statistical procedures would be employed to produce a comparative analysis of candidate performance. This comparative analysis includes grading a student based on a detailed look at the performance of the student in relation to the performance of the examination centre, country and, possibly, the entire region.
Minister of Education Andrew Holness has attested to the reliability of the system. He believes it to be 95-98 per cent accurate in assigning a grade to affected students.
"It will take into account the hardship that students encountered which was not of their making; and every attempt will be made by this government to ensure that the best interest of all Jamaican students are preserved and advanced," Holness said.
The adjusted grading scheme has rarely been used on a wide scale basis and, until the recent unrest, was considered solely in cases of natural disaster.
"The statistical projection of grades was used for students in Montserrat when the volcano on that island erupted and dislocated the entire registered cohort of examination candidates," said Holness.
Kamarni Henry, a fifth-form student at Kingston College, is undecided on the council's adjusted grading system.
"I don't feel comfortable with them assigning a grade, but they have no other alternatives," the 16-year-old said. "Sometimes teachers' projections aren't right and students perform better on the day, but there's nothing else that the council can do."
Henry was one of several hundred students who sat exams at the CXC Overseas Centre in Crossroads and said loud gunshots could be heard in the examination room. The sounds sent a number of students scurrying for cover.
Of the approximately 65 centres in Kingston, St Andrew, Portmore and Spanish Town, 10 centres were affected by the clashes between police and forces loyal to alleged drug lord Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.
Grades will now reflect:
Comparative analysis of candidate performance (candidate vs examination centre, etc)
Review of performance on components of exams (school-based assessment, etc)
Estimated grades of teachers
Grading system to be adjusted for CXC students