The Ministry of Education has taken steps to halt the screening of students in public schools who sit the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination. By 2016 schools will be required to enter 100 per cent of the grade-eleven cohort to sit at least five subjects in an external examination.
This year 71 per cent of the grade-eleven cohort entered English language in CSEC, City & Guilds and the Caribbean Certificate for Secondary Level Competence examinations, with 68 per cent sitting and 44 per cent passing. For mathematics 66 per cent of the eligible cohort entered these three external examinations with 63 per cent sitting and 36 per cent passing.
The Ministry made these disclosures in response to a recent report published by the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI), which indicated that teachers and administrators only enter for examinations students whose performance they believe will not jeopardise the overall pass rate of the school.
Pointing to a bulletin issued in February 2013, Chief Education Officer Dr Grace McLean has advised principals and members of staff to desist from the practice of debarring students who have not attained a minimum of 60 or 65 per cent in their mock examinations from sitting external examinations.
Instead of relying on the results of mock exams, the Chief Education Officer advised schools to adhere to the current minimum requirement for the CXC programme, which is an average of 50 per cent for all tests done during the year.
Additionally, Dr McLean said schools must give special consideration to those students who may have been affected by extenuating circumstances and may not have met the minimum requirements, but with the necessary intervention will be able to succeed in the examinations. She noted that students register for CSEC at least six months before the sitting of the examinations and, therefore, careful analysis must be given regarding those students who do not otherwise show the potential to improve.
The Chief Education Officer has insisted that every student who is not recommended for CSEC MUST be provided with an alternative that is in line with his/her career pathway, subject choices and examinations available. She said this would allow students to be more focused and will help them to complete their secondary level education with the competencies required.
Dr McLean said that Education Officers have been assigned the responsibility to ensure that school administrators and teachers follow the policy guidelines prohibiting the screening of grade-eleven students to sit external examinations.