Tennyson Joseph, UWI lecturer and political scientist shared a personal experience in his recent weekly column. While it is a personal experience, it scrutinises and exposes decision making at the highest level by education planners in the region. We must do better if we are to compete on the world stage, especially being able to cover-off rudimentary decisions.
See article reproduced from Nationnews.com.
Another CXC mis-step
I WRITE IN MY capacity as a concerned and frustrated parent, in response to an incident which occurred during the conduct of the CSEC English B (English Literature) multiple choice exam on Friday May 27, 2022.
Originally intended to be a two-hour exam (from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m), my daughter exited the exam room at 5:30 p.m., with other students having streamed out a few minutes before, this is on a day when they had already had a morning paper from 9 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. Essentially, therefore, the affected students were kept under examinations conditions for seven hours.
What was the issue? It appears that a decision was taken to conduct all CXC multiple-choice examinations online without ensuring that the necessary IT infrastructure to support such examinations was in place. Given that English B is compulsory for all students at my daughter’s school, the demand overload proved overwhelming, and many students had to sit for hours waiting, without success, for the exam App to open. Some were successful at various periods after the start, while others’ systems crashed mid-exam.
My daughter was one of the unfortunate ones whose apps failed to open, and she reported to me that after two hours of waiting, and going through a range of negative emotions, a decision was taken to allow the examination to be done in the old fashioned, but reliable way.
My aim is not to question the judgement of the onsite invigilators and decision-makers. What is concerning is the poor judgment of CXC decision makers, who, by insisting on online multiplechoice examinations, appear to be operating on the assumption that “man is made for technology rather than technology made for man”.
Two issues are of concern here. The first is that, after the loud public outcry and loss of goodwill experienced by CXC over the conduct of examinations during the 2019 COVID period, that CXC did not consider it prudent to put a pause on all “experimentation” to allow for a period of cooling off period and a return to normalcy.
Secondly, given the importance of assessments as measurements of student quality and as a determinant of life chances, great care should be taken to ensure that there is nothing intrinsic to an examination environment that can negatively affect student performance. CXC ought to have assured itself of near 100 per cent success prior to utilising new technology in examinations.
CXC is too important to allow these constant hints of weakness. It should be airtight and the least problematic of our institutions. My recommendation to CXC is that it should perfect the basic aspects of its mandate, before venturing off into new territory, especially at a time when the stench of recent failures still pollute the atmosphere. For the sake of our children and the educational “ecosystem”, let us get it right.