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E-marking hiccups won’t affect CXC results

Published:Wednesday | July 29, 2015 | 12:00 AM

The Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) has moved to assure students across the region that there will be no delay in the release of exam results, despite several issues with its electronic marking (e-marking) system.

The Gleaner has learnt that several markers who had signed up to mark papers electronically have opted out due to technical difficulties with the e-marking system.

One e-marker who requested not to be named has told The Gleaner that several persons using the e-marking system have made complaints about it.

"I personally have not had any technical difficulties with it but I know that a number of other markers have complained about it. My personal issue with it is that it is much more difficult to mark from a computer screen as opposed to having the physical paper," he said.

He went on to explain that markers were also facing challenges in terms of consulting on questions.

"When everyone is physically present, it is much easier to consult on questions and communicate but, with the e-marking, people are in separate locations and it makes it harder to communicate and come to a consensus. But what they have done to address that is form a WhatsApp group," he added.


shortage of markers


Responding to questions from The Gleaner, CXC has said that the loss of some personnel has not resulted in a shortage of markers and that it is well advanced in the marking process.

"CXC recruited 25 per cent more markers than the required number of markers. Of the 69 components that were e-marked, 68 have completed marking of scripts. Only one component is still being marked, and that component will be completed shortly," the council said.

According to the regional examination body, there are mechanisms for assisting markers experiencing challenges.

"As noted above, the challenges reported to CXC related mainly to connectivity issues of limited bandwidth and or slow download, and were not inherent to the system itself," the council said. "Any marker experiencing any challenges is provided with the necessary support through a help desk as well as team-management system. In addition, CXC has produced e-marking instructional videos on various aspects of e-marking to assist markers."

CXC also explained that the technical challenges encountered are instances of inadequate bandwidth and unstable Internet speed in some of the territories; and a certain degree of reticence over the novelty of the marking tool by some markers.

While CXC has said e-marking does not compromise its usual high standard of quality assurance, one e-marker has raised concerns about the integrity of the process.

"The marking scheme is more likely to be exposed to compromise because, prior to the e-marking, answer sheets were kept strictly in the marking room and they were not allowed to leave at any point in time, but now, if I'm at my house in front of a computer screen with the mark scheme, anybody can have access to it, also somebody could be helping me mark; I could give someone to mark and I'm out doing something else," the marker argued.

CXC introduced e-marking in 2014 after a trial run in 2013. Scripts are scanned and the images are indexed - that is, matched against the candidates' bio-data found on the scripts. The images are sent to the markers who use a scoring tool called 'Scoris' to mark the examination scripts online.