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Students Should Do SBAs Under Exam Conditions - educator

Published:Wednesday | August 12, 2015 | 5:03 PM

One educator is suggesting that students do School Based Assessments (SBAs) under exam conditions.

Reacting to news reports that a private school has offered to complete SBAs for students at a cost, Wesley Boynes, president of the Jamaica Independent Schools Association (JISA), has made a suggestion that students should do SBAs at school in the presence of assessors.

"The SBA is more than an academic exercise. It gives opportunities for the students to engage in character development processes. Students are usually challenged and pushed to be patient, persevering, thorough, hard-working, etc. The development of these attributes usually stays with them for life and prevents them from dropping out of university later on when the pressure is really turned on. When students engage in plagiarism or teachers and other persons write the SBAs on behalf of students, then the students are sadly robbed of these development opportunities. Apart from this consideration, there are some other very serious issues to be considered," he said in an email response to The Gleaner.

He went on to call for changes in the approach taken to SBAs.

"On the operational side of things, I believe that the time has come for the authorities to look at what I think is the decreasing relevance of the SBA in today's Jamaica. I really believe that the declining moral state of the nation and modern technology has caught up with this process and it is fast becoming obsolete," he argued.

easy to plagiarise

According to Boynes, "It is very easy to copy, cut and paste SBA papers and just add your name at the bottom. In most cases, in terms of the use of modern technology, the students are way ahead of their teachers, and maybe those who mark the SBAs. Generally speaking, for example, how will persons located in Barbados, tasked with marking papers written by students in Jamaica, conclude that plagiarism has occurred or that the papers were indeed written by unscrupulous teachers for pay by students? This seems like an increasingly hopeless situation to me."

The JISA president also said that reports of others doing SBAs on behalf of students is reflective of the moral state of the country.

"If the authorities ... continue to proceed to building an education system which seems to be solely fixated on certification processes at the expense of character development of students, then at least we need to come up with a more practical approach to arriving at a fair assessment of students' academic achievements. Maybe we have to find a way for the SBAs to be done on spot right in the classroom in the presence of assessors," he said.

A request for a response from the Ministry of Education was not granted up to press time.