The Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) is demanding full disclosure from the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) about the terms and conditions of its planned “independent review” of this year’s controversial Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Exam (CAPE) results.
In fact, the union is asking for a complete remark of this year’s papers following claims of discrepancies and inconsistencies in the results.
During a Barbados TODAY interview, BSTU President Mary Redman complained that for several years, the regional examining body has been given free rein to impose its will on students and teachers without sufficient oversight from regional governments.
She added that as a result of the latest issues, teachers have been forced to provide emotional support to dozens of students whose university education and scholarship prospects have been derailed by “major discrepancies” in this year’s results.
The alleged inconsistencies have triggered protests by dozens of students and parents in Barbados and across the region and even threats of legal action.
While conveying the union’s full support, Redman warned that if the current saga is allowed to fester, it could damage CXC’s reputation in the eyes of regional and international institutions.
She then added that CXC’s failure to outline a new grading scheme after removing the paper two component of the exams in favour of just the School Based Assessment (SBA) and a multiple-choice paper would continue to cloud any attempt to justify the results of a new review.
“What has CXC really done? What formula, or algorithm, or curve? What did they use to arrive at the grades that they arrived at? They need to make this known in a transparent manner because it is not one student in one subject or in one country; it is students in various schools, subjects, and at various levels including CSEC and CAPE across the region” Redman charged.
“Something is wrong and CXC owes the people of the region an explanation… and they need to come with the facts in short order if, as an examining body, they are supposed to retain any level of credibility that they now hold.”
After days of protests, CXC Chairman Professor Sir Hilary Beckles promised that an independent team would be appointed to review this year’s results.
But according to the BSTU President, Beckles’ statement has done little to quell concerns as it directly contradicts sentiments expressed by CXC Registrar Dr Wayne Wesley. As a result, Redman has asked that CXC explain how the members of the committee will be selected, their terms of reference, and the timelines on which they will operate. Traditionally, such reviews only consist of a recalculation of the marks.
“The reliability of their exams and examination process is now under serious question, and if it is under question, attention will be drawn to it internationally, because our students study at foreign universities,” Redman warned.
“And when all of this gets out, then what does it do for the reputation of the examining body internationally as well?
“In these particular circumstances, we would expect that CXC would look to re-mark the papers because…there is a serious problem in relation to how CXC is doing what they are doing,” she added.
Redman recalled penning a letter on March 26 to Chief Education Officer Joy Adamson and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education Beverley Alleyne-Headley expressing serious concerns about the lack of clarity surrounding the July exams. She added that subsequent letters sent from other teachers’ unions across the region to their respective governments and from the Caribbean Union of Teachers (CUT) to the CXC all appeared to have fallen on deaf ears.
“This year’s [issues] are just a culmination of a set of unaddressed problems that we have been reporting on for a while,” the union leader complained.
“They behave as if they are completely autonomous; the governments in the region have allowed them to behave in that way. It is a case of the tail wagging the dog and we have been complaining about that for a long time. CXC needs to listen to its customers, and it needs to treat the input of the people who are implementing their programmes in the region with respect and with regard. They have not been doing that for years now.”