Concern has been raised that the integrity of the School Based Assessment (SBA) for some students could be compromised, with the correction of these papers by some heads of departments and, in some cases, temporary teachers.
President of the Barbados Secondary Teacher’s Union (BSTU) Mary Redman said today the situation was “particularly distressing”, even as she maintained that the union would be pressing ahead with its plan not to have its members correcting the SBAs unless they were paid to do so.
Last month the BSTU announced that its members would not submit final marks for students who had undergone the SBA programme. The teachers are demanding adequate compensation for correcting the SBAs, which are administered by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC).
Despite sound warnings from Government that the teachers could face disciplinary action if they maintained their position, Redman told Barbados TODAY this afternoon “our teachers are going ahead with the plan” to submit uncorrected SBAs to the CXC so they could “pay qualified persons in the specific subject areas to correct the exams”.
However, Redman said she was gravely concerned that some temporary teachers were being “bullied” into correcting SBAs.
“An area of grave concern to us really is the fact that some of our members have been handing in the SBAs uncorrected for forward submission to CXC and heads of departments and temporary teachers are being coerced to correct these SBAs,” reported Redman.
“There is a particularly distressing situation at a school where one of our members handed in about 240 labs at 3:30 Tuesday evening and by 1:30 on Thursday afternoon he was told that they had all been corrected by the head of department, who had not taught the subject for about ten years, and that the marks had been submitted,” she said.
This, said Redman, “raises all sorts of questions about the integrity of the process and the attitude of the Ministry through the schools to correct the SBAs by any means necessary”.
She argued that such actions “fell totally outside” the aim of the union, which she said was to maintain the integrity of the process.
“That was our intention in handing in the SBAs uncorrected so that they would be corrected in a way that did not raise questions as to the integrity of the whole process. These are different parameters being brought to bear on the whole situation,” said Redman.
The original deadline for submission of corrected SBAs to CXC was April 30th. However, the BSTU head said she was “hearing about deadline extensions”.
And while she could not say how much of the SBAs were corrected so far, she said “at some schools the teachers have been able to hold out in a way that has not happened at other schools where our members have been, when submitted, redistributed to other teachers, usually temporary teachers, who have been coerced and bullied and some heads of departments to be corrected”.
“The thing is that CXC tends to stipulate that to correct the subject you have to be qualified in it and you have to be actively teaching it, and this is not what is happening right now in this mad rush to get the SBAs corrected by any means necessary,” she added.
To her detractors, Redman said instead of talking they should first get to understand the process and what the teachers were experiencing.
“They have no idea of the hours of work that goes into every SBA for each student in your class. You may have 30 students in one class and you may teach more than one class at the fifth form level and you may also teach at the sixth form level. So many of our teachers deal with hundreds of SBAs,” she said.