Outgoing Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) Registrar Glenroy Cumberbatch is defending a decision taken four years ago by the examination body to introduce e-marking of scripts.
Cumberbatch, who has held the top post at CXC since 2014, argued that contrary to charges by teachers’ organizations across the region, including the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) that system was not working effectively, it has significantly cut down on errors.
“It has its teething problems but we also had some problems with the face-to-face marking over the period of time. Generally it has worked well for all subjects and we have been able to get better quality and we have had to make fewer changes to grades since we have introduce that system.
“It is true that we have to look at the review system but the quality of marking has improved,” said Cumberbatch, who was speaking to the media on sidelines CXC’s annual staff appreciation luncheon and awards ceremony at Turtle Beach Resort in Dover, Christ Church.
The e-marking system has come in for harsh criticism from BSTU President Mary Redman, who has charged that CXC has essentially placed financial considerations ahead of the quality of marking.
She has also argued that the curriculum development, examinations, certification and education services provider had no way of monitoring who was actually doing the marking.
However, Cumberbatch revealed that CXC has now put measures in place to fix glitches and loopholes that have existed in the system.
“We recognize that we had some problems and we have put some structure in place going forward to deal with these problems by 2018. We had training sessions in Guyana, Trinidad and Jamaica for persons who wanted to mark papers. The training for teachers who want to mark scripts in Barbados will be held here later this year. So we are going to bring them in, take them through the steps and get them better prepared so that they can play a better role in marking. We are also going to look at our mark schemes to make them better and easier to follow,” Cumberbatch explained.
The registrar also commented on the longstanding controversy over payment to teachers for marking school based assessment (SBA) projects, stating that it was the teachers who first called for the introduction of SBAs.
“What is interesting is that process of SBAs was introduced by CXC back in the 80s and the teachers were the one who were pushing for it back then. The explanation was that they saw it as an important part for them to have an impact on determining the quality of grade for their students. The only thing we have to ensure is that we don’t ask teachers to do anything outside what they normally do in the classroom,” he explained.
The BSTU has maintained that
marking SBAs was not part of teachers’ job description and they should be paid for the extra work.
The issue has been a contentious one between the Ronald Jones-led Ministry of Education and the teachers, who staged a march on the streets of Bridgetown back in April to press their case.
The Ministry of Education subsequently docked the pay of those who participated in the march, which took place during school hours.