Sat | Oct 24, 2020

2020-21 CXC exam schedule on course

Published:Wednesday | September 23, 2020 | 12:15 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer

As some Caribbean countries delay the start to the 2020-2021 academic year because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the regional examination body is already in discussions about next year’s sitting.

Home-based learning has begun in Trinidad while face-to-face classes commenced in Barbados on September 21. St Lucia opened some schools on September 7, while Jamaica intends to officially start the school year on October 5.

In Cuba, schools resumed on September 1, though some schools were shut after a week of classes following a small outbreak of COVID-19 cases.

Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) Registrar Dr Wayne Wesley said the schedule for the May-June exams, as posted on the website, remained the same.

“We are, however, having some internal discussions on that particular schedule as well as the examination itself,” he said in response to a question posed by The Gleaner during the press conference on the official release of the July 2020 results on Tuesday.

“Right now, all examinations remain in the original format. However, we are looking at the impact of COVID-19 on syllabus coverage and school-based assessment (SBA) requirements,” he said.

Wesley told journalists that consultations would be had with the respective ministries of education across the region and critical stakeholder groups.

The registrar added that CXC acknowledged that COVID-19 will be around for some time, and that the organisation would make the necessary adjustments to ensure that exams can be hosted next year.

In March, CXC took a policy decision to modify the examination process that would yield valid grades and minimise the disruption in the education system.

Final grades were awarded based on the moderated SBA and a common multiple-choice paper.

For foreign languages, visual arts, and human and social biology, students completed an additional component.

Meanwhile, Barbados Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training Santia Bradshaw commended CXC for opting to modify the examination process rather than issue grades based on teacher predictions.

Bradshaw reasoned that the pandemic has presented opportunities for CXC and has fast-tracked the regional’s education system to be more resilient to global and regional events.

“Prior to COVID-19, CXC had embarked on a strategic direction for regional exams which involved greater use of technology in the administration of its processes and, more so, the administration of exams – especially with the rollout of e-testing,” she said in her feature address.

Bradshaw added that with governments providing devices to students, schools would be better able to accelerate the use of e-testing for the 2021 examinations.

Improvements in CSEC, CAPE grades

Director of Operations in the Examination Services Division, Nicole Manning, said there was an improvement in students attaining grades two in Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) subjects. All other acceptable CAPE grades (1-5), saw a decline.

Meanwhile, for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC), there was an overall 3.81 per cent increase in students receiving acceptable grades (one to three).

In CSEC mathematics, there was a marked improvement in student performance compared to 2019. Fifty-two per cent of students received passing grades compared to 46 per cent in the previous year.

Also, 12 per cent of candidates were awarded grade ones, a four per cent improvement from last year.

In English A, 82 per cent of candidates obtained passing grades, 23 per cent of whom received grade ones.