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Dr Wayne Wesley

Registrar of the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) Dr Wayne Wesley has confirmed that the examination body will move to address thousands of grade queries that were received from students across the region, within the coming week.

The announcement came from Wesley during a virtual media briefing yesterday, as CXC delved into a draft report recently compiled by an independent review team.

“One has to deal with how soon we will treat with the review requests that would be submitted to us…and we really have a week turnaround time on some of these review requests. Within a week we will be treating with those requests,” Wesley assured.

Almost 40,000 students and private candidates wrote the July/August 2020 CAPE exams while 122,000 engaged in CSEC in 20 territories in the region.

Chairman of CXC Prof Sir Hilary Beckles. who touched on some of the findings of the report during the conference. insisted that “minorities must be heard.”

On the flip side, he said CXC did well in modifying exam strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic and conducted its remit in a professional manner.

This comes after last month’s query by students across the region over their respective grades in the CSEC and CAPE examinations.

On Saturday, chairman of the independent team Prof Hazel Simmons Mc Donald presented the report to CXC which contained 23 recommendations-one of which is that management constitute a process of reform and an upgrade of the ecosystem in the short to medium term.

Beckles said council discussed the report for three hours on Saturday and expressed its full satisfaction with the quality of research and integrity of the investigations.

Today, Beckles said the council will meet with all education ministers in the region to discuss the report while CXC’s management will begin the healing process and “to look at what are going to be the changes that would be recommended.”

He said the purpose of CXC is to meet the satisfaction of all of its governments.

However, he said the report showed that communications between the various elements of the systems could have been more effective.

“That these misunderstandings contributed ultimately to a high measure of anxiety in respect of performance by students, teachers, parents and other stakeholders.”

He said in some instances CXC could have responded to students and parents with greater alacrity, stating the relationships in the system must now be made more efficient.

Within CXC’s regulatory structure, Beckles said, “There is now a very urgent need to address all of the specific concerns raised by stakeholders.”

“It is necessary for the ecosystem to undergo an audit review…that is all of the parts of the educational system in which CXC is a critical component.”

He said in the context of remote learning, internet coverage in some Caribbean countries has been poor while COVID-19 created a stress profile for teachers, parents and students.

“Anxiety about performance…this has been the first time where we have seen this level of anxiety because of the modification of the processes plus the COVID culture.”

He said CXC has to think about next year and how to move forward.

Responding to questions, Beckles admitted that students in 20 territories experienced inconsistencies with their grades which amounted to “one per cent or less.”

He said the concerns raised with the results this year was greater compared to previous years.

“Some of the challenges were systemic. When we have a large number of students or a block of students within a school or multiple schools… we have to examine what has gone wrong. It is not simply a matter that the students did not do well as expected,” Beckles said.

He said in many instances there were communication challenges with statistics and grades that needed to be fixed.

Providing figures for those seeking review queries, Wesley said their records showed there were 2,353 CAPE students with 2,550 being CSEC students across the region.

“In respect of the queries received this year in relation to ungraded, it would have been 659. In respect of absence and ungraded together it would have been 1,572.”

He said the deadline for candidates and students to make reviews and queries of their examinations has been extended from October 23 to November 6.

Wesley said CXC will also reduce the fees associated with the request for a review by 50 per cent.

“If the result in grade remains the same the candidate will be advised and if the result in grade is increased the candidate will be advised as well as a full refund of the review fees.”

He said measures have been out in place for candidates to get an immediate response to the review of their grade.

Beckles interjected, stating that students who want to pursue tertiary education have been held in abeyance which they regret.

“We intend to get the reviews done very, very quickly to allow certainty so that we can reduce the anxiety among the students, and of course their parents and teachers to have this matter settled as quickly as possible,” Beckles said.

Pressed for answers regarding students who had observed on Friday changes in their preliminary grades issued in the CAPE examinations on the Student Portal.

Wesley said any great change that has been reported “it is a formal process for us to communicate that to the local registrars to the respective ministries.”

Any great change, Wesley should not be “where a grade is decreased. We will stand by the initial publication of grades in that regard, given the decision to make sure that grades are not reduced.”

Pressed if CXC will move to scrap SBAs, Wesley said it is here to stay.

“We are still giving consideration to the SBAs.”