Setting the CXC Record Straight – Part Two

Much has also been made by CXC and its defenders of the ‘concessions’ made by the Council already, specifically releasing the broad topics, delaying the exams and deadlines for SBAs and allowing the opportunity to defer. These concessions are merely basic recognitions of unescapable realities and in no way a magnanimous response to student suffering. In the first instance, there has been substantial dissatisfaction on the part of teachers and students with the broad topics as released and still, as revised. In many instances, they are too broad, too vague and do little to remedy the reality that many students, through no fault of their own, have not completed the syllabus content. Secondly, the delay of exams and submission deadlines is not so much a concession as it is the forced acknowledgement of a reality of escalating COVID cases and lockdowns in Trinidad and Jamaica.

Perhaps the greatest misnomer is this misguided notion of deferrals. In theory it may sound reasonable to some that where students have been unable to complete the content then they should sit the full exam at the next sitting when they have the opportunity to learn everything. However, why should our students pay the cost of the pandemic by delaying their academic progression due to a pandemic, completely out of their control, especially since their colleagues internationally have benefited from creative solutions that do not make them have to choose to defer.

Much more practically however, many of our secondary schools house far too many students in too small spaces, made all the smaller with the social distancing which might well be with us for time to come. There are shortages of textbooks in some instances too. Many territories have indicated that there is no guarantee that students who defer will have a place in a school, and where countries, like Barbados, are guaranteeing places to deferrers, additional stress is place on an already burdened system. Pray tell, where shall we place scores of deferred candidates? Who shall teach them? Which textbooks will they use? These are the unanswered logistical considerations that make deferring a false choice.

The Caribbean Examinations Council and the regional educational ecosystem have failed our students by their patent inflexibility and intractability. We deeply regret that our students are sacrificed at the altar of tradition. Indeed, too many of our technocrats appear more loyal to doing CXC’s bidding than representing the interests of our students, while we are concerned that parents and students are not treated or engaged as valued stakeholders.

We appreciate and value the past contribution of CXC to our region’s development, but it is clear that CXC in its present form is not fit for purpose and is in fact actively hurting our students and teachers, and so must be rebuilt to give life once again to the original vision out of which it was birthed. Thus, we demand the empanelling of an independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate the still unresolved issues of 2020 and the more fundamental issues surrounding CXC’s operations and governance, and ultimately the establishment of a permanent, independent regulatory body to oversee the CXC. The Caribbean Coalition for Exam Redress stands ready and willing to work with regional governments in pursuit of this goal, and so will write all Ministries with a detailed proposal in this regard, in the fullness of time.

We remain profoundly disappointed with callous decisions taken this year and last and deeply regret that hundreds of thousands of students will ultimately have to pay the price of this intransigence. The Coalition will continue to advocate for all students affected by the 2020-21 exam crisis and on a parallel track, lobby for a more equitable arrangement in 2022 and generally long-term change in the interest of our students and our region. 

  • Ms. Paula-Anne Moore,

Spokesperson, Group of Concerned Parents of Barbados

Coordinator/Chief Spokesperson, Caribbean Coalition for Exam Redress 

  • Mr. Khaleel Kothdiwala,

Student Liaison, The Group of Concerned Parents of Barbados 

Lead Student Advocate, Caribbean Coalition for Exam Redress

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  1. US Schools use a School Transcript Record system which falls in the domain of continuous assessment. The student transcript reflects all content and the associated grades in the content that a student has earned on their progression through school. This requires a robust student information system to capture all the appropriate information. The balance between transcripts [continuous assessment] and examinations [discrete assessments] is balanced with citizenship, extracurricular activities and community engagement to determine students eligibility and preparedness for college. A potential route for Caribbean schools?

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