All eyes on CXC
Come this Thursday, August 24, 2023 a large number of our students — and parents, no doubt — will have their attention trained on the Caribbean Examinations Council for the release of the results for the recent sitting of Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate Examinations (CSEC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE).
The jury is still out on whether Primary Exit Profile results elicit greater anxiety than these more senior exams, but no one will dare rank them in importance.
The nation at large looks on with interest, too, as the leak of the 2023 CSEC mathematics paper two, among other challenges, has not left our memory.
The embarrassment of being fingered as the source of the malfeasance still has many in Jamaica hanging our heads in shame.
That the regional examining body had to do away with scoring the paper entirely speaks, first, to the degree at which the institution viewed the breach. And, second — and perhaps more important — is that the examiners would in no way risk a diminished quality for these important standard-setting tests.
Such is the effect of evildoers on an entire cohort that, in the final analysis, candidates who spent years preparing for this subject area will never truly know how they performed. CXC has indicated that, with the now-scrapped paper two, paper one (the multiple choice exam), which initially carried 30 per cent of the weighting of the final score, will now carry 60 per cent, while paper three (the school-based assessment [SBA]), which carried 20 per cent, will carry a weight of 40 per cent instead.
The results of CSEC and CAPE papers are, by and large, the determining factor for the matriculation and transitioning of our students across the region to post-secondary and undergraduate studies, and for many into the world of work. Futures hang in the balance and said results are centripetal to the workings of the education ecosystem of the region.
Schools of thought will vary on the efficacy of such graded tests and scores, but for now the trajectory of many of our children and wards is determined by them.
CXC, which was established in 1972 under an agreement by the participating governments in the Caribbean Community (Caricom), is recognised internationally as the qualification for entry into tertiary institutions in the region and in countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada.
We take some comfort in news from CXC’s Director of Operations Dr Nicole Manning that systems have been put in place to stave off, if not eliminate, a recurrence.
“We have new systems in terms of the quality requirements… Where we have a breach, it must be noted that we have changes in the utilisation of those centres in the future… But CXC is implementing new systems, and more so the electronic testing is where we want to go and where we have been going,” said Manning.
We are yet to see the implications for the students at the affected centre going forward, but trust that the council will not put in place hurdles to the achievements of the succeeding cohorts as Manning explained that CXC will stop utilising centres at which breaches occurred.
There are growing challenges for electronic testing and much unknown of the impact of artificial intelligence on education, but what cannot be understated is the role and function of integrity in the process.
Still, the hard work of our students must be celebrated. We hail their triumphs and support those who missed the mark to try again, trusting that the future of this region rests in the hands of these youngsters who must succeed based solely on the work they had put in and not by dishonest means.