CXC’s handling of the review process of their 2020 examinations has been given a stinging rebuke by a Barbadian educator.
Dr Michael Clarke has questioned why the regional examining body has not been disciplined by CARICOM for its actions, which have led to hundreds of students receiving lower than usual grades.
Clarke, who resides in Maryland, Washington, and is the Master Scheduler for the District of Columbia Public Schools, has contended that CXC disregarded a report issued by its Technical Advisory Committee (TAC).
He made the comments while speaking as a panelist during a webinar hosted by the Caribbean Union of Teachers entitled, ‘Approaches to 2021 CXC Exit Examinations’.
Clarke, who has written several articles on ‘The CXC Debacle’, said his greatest concern was that CXC had ignored the report from the TAC, which indicated that student scores from the expanded moderation process — the method chosen during last year’s COVID-19 pandemic — were generally lower than in previous years.
He said the report suggested that the 2020 CXC exams were neither reliable, valid nor fair.
He said rather than acknowledge that fact and return to the drawing board to find a fix, CXC did nothing.
“The only response to a reliability ding from the TAC would be to fix it. Perhaps a different moderation rubric, perhaps the use of a different sampling technique, but my job would have been to find a solution to maintain reliability, implement that solution, send the work back to the TAC so they could stamp the assessments as reliable. That did not happen here. My question is why? Why would CXC ignore their TAC? By ignoring the TAC we ended up in this crisis,” Clarke maintained.
“What made it OK for them to ignore their TAC? What in their mission says it is OK? What about their governance and leadership says this is OK? What about their educational programme says this is OK? What about their institutional organization says this is OK? How is this aligned with their institutional improvement planning? Why would it be OK to ignore the TAC and launch a crisis that has generated this level of concern?
“And we know it must be ok because all the members of CXC leadership as far as I know are still in place and I am not aware of any public sanctions or reprimands. Should not CARICOM or COHSOD [The Council for Human and Social Development] have a role in addressing this?” he further questioned.
Clarke said he was puzzled that no one seemed to have the authority to call out CXC on their lapse of judgment.
“I am a little disappointed that regional Governments have not seen the present situation as a reason to accelerate the digitally transformed enterprise that is part of CXC’s visions,” he noted.
Another panelist, principal of the William Knibb Memorial High School and president of the Jamaica Association of Principals of Secondary Schools, Linvern Wright said CXC’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic had been disappointing.
He said they had been extremely inflexible and failed to listen to the needs of teachers, students and principals.
“If I were to characterize CXC’s response to education in the Caribbean during this pandemic there are two words; one is intractable and the other is inflexible. Really, they have been very difficult to deal with because of how I think they have seen consultation. They have been inflexible because I think our students, our teachers, our principals, even our ministries have had to bow to the kind of inflexible approach that CXC has had in dealing with exams,” Wright said.
“They have moved a little bit on certain things as you would know…but ministries, principals and teachers have really been trying to contort themselves to really deal with this inflexibility.”