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In trying to understand why there seems to be so many problems with the 2020 CXC results I can only think of two areas of discomfort.

The first is the submission of School Based Assessments (SBAs) by all students. In previous years, all students were expected to complete SBAs. But CXC only called for samples from each school to be marked. What many teachers did was to prepare the samples especially for marking. When CXC called for all SBAs this year, many were caught off-guard and the COVID shutdown afforded few the time monitor and fix their SBAs (even though the deadline had gone).

Invariably, some students were learning about the investigative methods, readings and presentation (among other things) of SBAs for the first time. It would, therefore, be no surprise to find that this year SBA marks would be less than the usual, because CXC would have been more thorough in dealing with SBAs.

As a former principal myself, SBA is left almost entirely to the subject teacher and the department head. There is little or no input by principals in this process which may have shortcuts. It would, therefore, be interesting to see which schools have the most problems with the marks, and what the reasons are for the lower than normal marks.

The other area of concern must be CXC’s reliance on performance in Paper 1 which in most cases is multiple-choice. For obvious reasons the better students perform best in the Paper 2 which require essays and short answers. This requires a longer period of marking but is a more reliable form of assessment for most subject areas.

As one who has been involved in traditional CXC marking for over 30 years, generally standardisation of markers and marking of papers have presented few problems. With the introduction of online marking I can see some problems in standardisation of markers, but every effort should have been made to have a Paper 2.

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