Allegations of leaked answers for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) mathematics paper two examination via TikTok and other social media platforms and similar news coming from my relative doing the exam the same day, no less, was disappointing.
Suffice to say, if the allegations are true, this is not the first instance and it won't be the last in which answers have emerged from the regional examination body without authorisation. It speaks to the lack of a principled, reputable, encryption system and the questionable integrity of the employees of this renowned institution.
As a result, I believe that the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) is slowly failing its clients, the students, by not ensuring that confidential information remains confidential, not addressing past non-conformances to reduce the occurrence of leaks, and not providing an atmosphere of equity for thousands of candidates.
A trip down memory lane reveals the leaking of the CSEC mathematics paper in Guyana in 2005 and the recent use of cellphones by Trinidadian students to share answers during an exam in 2019.
On a superficial level, though, students are simply looking to get the best grade possible; however, closer inspection of the root cause shows that students are oftentimes pressured to perform well beyond their competency level. The overbearing expectations of peers, parents, and teachers, as well as other stakeholders on their journey to success would encourage the most capable and impressionable students to cheat.
Counterintuitively, this also prods them to discard confidence in their own abilities to do well without assistance. Furthermore, students who learn to swindle at such a crucial stage in their lives may commit other crimes in the near future.
During recent discussions with my colleagues, it was suggested that we advocate for a novel approach to how students' competency levels are assessed. Since the answer scripts are often leaked, CXC may try a competency-based assessment (CBA) approach, which would override most of the grading criteria for theoretical assessment, with a touch of critical thinking tests across all subject areas. It can be challenging for candidates after they leave secondary school to transition into tertiary education or the world of work since easy ways to swat their material beforehand are common. Thus, it can be argued that a CBA approach can provide a window through which a nation of critical thinkers can be developed.
It may be necessary to shift the Caribbean region's perspective on classroom learning and slowly replace a possibly antiquated CSEC exam in the near future.
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