In responding to the unusual, indeed extraordinary complaint level of this year’s CXC/CAPE examinations across the Caribbean, one can hardly take the line of praise or blame, unless evidence is forthcoming with respect to each.
One can acknowledge that COVID-19 has negatively all processes everywhere, and these examinations are no exception. It is instructive that even the A Level exams in the UK were not immune!
Still we can offer some perspectives on the issue:
Students as well as teachers on the advent on COVID on March 12, would have been handicapped in completing syllabuses although by then they should have been virtually complete.
SBA’s and practicals, however, may have fallen out of the loop if teaching stopped at that point, not to mention the fact that the revision /review component, important as that is, would have also been lost—a serious setback.
The substitute online teaching/revision after March 12 would have virtually eliminated the live interactive component between teacher and student.
The logistics of wearing masks, social distancing and other COVID protocols would have done much to negatively impact composure and balance, especially on examination day.
Marking, too, may have been affected, especially travel for external examiners and the constraints between examiners in relation to necessary communication among them in terms of emerging patterns of performance.
There is little available information regarding traditional standards of marking and whether there was need to deviate from them but making objective adjustments to those standards would have been formidable considering the numerous subjectivities involved.
If such adjustments had to be made, necessarily, it may point to a level of performance, in many instances, different from student expectations, leading to the may queries which arose, and can lead to the fallout of some students as well as parents, jumping on the band wagon of contesting results, as a way of dealing what would have been ordinarily poor results
Can this have the long term effect of undermining the sanctity of the exams and its results, precipitating a credibility gap in terms of the authenticity of examination results not only in the workplace but in the wider society as a whole?
COVID has created a new normal in the world over. Has it impacted such an important area of our national life in a way that a once sacred institution is now under siege?
I leave that answer to you!