Last week’s revelation that near 40 students received an ‘ungraded’ for various Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) subjects is deeply disturbing, but unfortunately not surprising.
Students who worked for months have been denied even the chance at a fair assessment because a ‘senior teacher’ failed to submit samples of their CXC-required school-based assessments (SBAs). The reasons given for this failure have ranged from remarkably flimsy to absolutely laughable, and such an administrator does not appear to have the care or competence of someone who ought to be employed at an educational institution.
We share the pain of those students who have been denied the fruits of their hard work. However, we also understand the unfair and awkward position in which the regional examination body has been placed. We understand the reluctance of CXC to accept SBAs for marking after grades already have been handed out, as well as the reluctance to set a precedent of accepting SBAs after such absolute carelessness. Perhaps, the only acceptable outcome is for Penwood to pay for the resits of each student – though this is still unfair to the students.
That said, this incident was a disaster which may be of benefit to the education system as a whole.
Over the years, there have been far too many anecdotal instances of students being denied grades because teachers did not submit SBAs. Even more plentiful have been stories of SBAs being given grades by teachers, and then being steeply adjusted by the regional body, without explanation. Perhaps a disaster of this scale was necessary for greater care and transparency to be applied to the SBA set-up.
Clearly there needs to be greater oversight, but school administrators also need be more vigilant about how SBAs are graded and treated. Last year’s incident which saw the grades of 70 Jamaica College physics students being revoked after the entire cohort submitted identical SBAs passed with the promise of stricter guidelines for the completion of SBAs.
But school administrators must now implement great intra-school guidelines for the submission of SBAs to external examiners, and delinquent administrators of the process must be replaced.
Lest we forget, it is the future of youngsters which suffer because of such carelessness.