CXC registrar joins calls for teachers who instruct students to cheat to be prevented from preparing them for exams
Tyrone Reid, Senior Staff Reporter
There seems to be growing support for a proposal that teachers who help students to cheat on their school-based assessments (SBAs) should be barred from preparing students to sit the regional exams.
Following the disqualification of an entire sixth-form cohort that sat the 2013 edition of the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) Physics exam for cheating on the SBAs, plus allegations of similar dishonesty at two other secondary schools, the Caribbean Examinations Council's (CXC) local registrar in Jamaica has voiced his support for the call.
During a recent sit-down with The Sunday Gleaner, Hector Stephenson, executive director of the Overseas Examinations Commission (OEC) and local registrar for CXC, argued that teachers who encourage or instruct students to plagiarise previously submitted work in order to get a good grade on their SBAs are unworthy of the responsibility of preparing students to sit exams designed by CXC.
"Any teacher in Jamaica who is in clear breach of the regulations governing SBAs, or who causes students to behave in an improper or dishonest manner, is not worthy to continue to work with students in that manner," said Stephenson.
Asked pointedly if teachers who instruct students to cheat should be allowed to continue preparing students for the regional examinations, Stephenson said: "My answer to that would be no, as long as it has been established that there was dishonesty in the process."
Earlier this month, The Sunday Gleaner reported that 70 sixth-form students at Jamaica College (JC) were disqualified by CXC after a probe unearthed that they were instructed to plagiarise previously written labs.
Last week, The Sunday Gleaner reported that the OEC restarted investigations into allegations that teachers from two Westmoreland-based schools - Belmont Academy and The Manning's School evening institution - tampered with the SBAs of their students
Meanwhile, the CXC local registrar's position was supported by Everton Hannam, president of the National Parent Teachers' Association of Jamaica (NPTAJ).
"Any teacher who instructs students to plagiarise or cheat should be removed from the teaching profession," said Hannam.
The NPTAJ president said the issue, which has given Jamaica a black eye, is a question of ethics that is addressed by the tenets of the act that established the Jamaica Teaching Council.
"Once proven guilty, it is really a serious case, there has to be some disconnection from the teaching profession over a period of time because it's tantamount to professional misconduct," said Hannam, as he added that he wouldn't advocate for a teacher to be banned for the first offence.
Dr Mark Nicely, president of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA), said the decision to employ a teacher to prepare students for subjects offered by CXC, who had been previously dismissed for instructing students to cheat on SBAs, should be handled "on a case-by-case basis".
"It depends on the magnitude of the previous offence," Nicely reasoned.
The JTA president encouraged school boards and principals to due the requisite due-diligence checks before hiring any teacher, "so that if you employ that person you are knowingly doing so, and then can put checks and balances in place".
The JTA president also advanced that after natural justice has taken its course, the school's board should discipline the teacher found guilty of such professional misconduct, in accordance with the provisions contained in the Education Regulations.
Nicely believes cheating on SBAs is widespread in Jamaica because of the ultra-competitive scholastic rivalry that exists in the education sector.
"I would want to think that it is widespread. Education is becoming such a big business and we have to be careful that we don't lose the quality," said Nicely.
He continued: "It needs to be investigated because it is not something that we can turn a blind eye to, as it goes to the heart of the credibility of our education system."
The JTA president warned that the association would not support any teacher caught encouraging, facilitating or instructing students to plagiarise or cheat on SBAs.