Barbados School Exams Grades Messed Up? ‘No Way’ Says Exams Chief.

Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Santia Bradshaw. (E.Walker/MRD/FP)
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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados–September 24th, 2020–

Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Santia Bradshaw, has dived into the exams controversy and called on the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) to conduct an “urgent investigation” into concerns over the recently released CAPE and CSEC examination results.

Bradshaw issued a statement on the matter saying:

“The disquiet among students who recently received the Caribbean Examinations Council’s CAPE and CSEC examinations is definitely cause for concern. I am of the view that an urgent investigation must be carried out by CXC into this matter to preserve the integrity of the examinations.

“I know that the Council has already responded to indicate the procedure to initiate the review process by Friday, October 23. And while there must be respect for process, I do feel however that given the unprecedented number of students who have raised concerns, particularly those online, I would strongly urge CXC to move swiftly to investigate and also to consider the waiver of fees associated with the review.

“Indeed, these are not normal times and as a cloud of uncertainty looms over the heads of several of our students who are preparing to go off to university, it is incumbent on CXC to urgently resolve this matter so that they can get on with their lives,” she stated. The results for the July 2020 examinations were released on Tuesday, September 22, following a ceremony at CXC headquarters, Pine Plantation Road, St. Michael.

Yesterday, an unprecedented number of parents, guardians and even teachers signed a massive online petition demanding a thorough review of the results contending that mistakes were made and the results were not adding up.

Thousands of signatories from Barbados and the rest of the region agreed that many students’ grades do not accurately reflect their performances in the exam.

But Barbados Today reported that CXC Registrar Wayne Wesley hit back by insisting that it is not going to happen and that individual students, if they are not happy, may pay a fee and have their exam papers individually reviewed.

“Candidates who have questions about an absent or ungraded result, can submit a query. If there is a question about a grade and the candidate wishes to have a script re-examined, they may submit a request for a review,” he said.

He also emphasized that the Council had no intention of waiving the review fees.

The CXC said there is a long-established process in place for addressing the concerns of candidates regarding their grades.

This year’s exam experience in Barbados reflects a similar phenomenon earlier in the year in the UK, in which numerous students received grades that were lower than expected.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom, all secondary education examinations due to be held in 2020 were cancelled. As a result, an alternative method had to be designed and implemented at short notice to determine the qualification grades to be given to students for that year.

A grades standardization algorithm was produced in June 2020 by the regulator Ofqual. The algorithm was designed to combat grade inflation, and was to be used to moderate the existing but unpublished teacher-predicted grades for A Level and GCSE students.

After the A Level grades were issued, and after criticism, Ofqual, with the support of HM Government, withdrew these grades. It issued all students the Centre Assessment Grades (CAGs), which had been produced by teachers as part of the process.

The same ruling was applied to the awarding of GCSE grades, just a few days before they were issued: CAG-based grades were the ones released on results day.

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