LETTER OF THE DAY - Probe CSEC exam failures

Published: Tuesday | August 21, 2012 Comments 0


I have been keeping abreast of much of the debate in the aftermath of the abysmal Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) performances in English language and mathematics.

Simultaneous with the post-mortem of the failure in the media has been the celebration of those students who did outstandingly well. In all the profiles of these students they presented reasons for their success.

It is in this regard that I found myself wondering, why isn't this done when students fail? Why is there no comprehensive study of the students themselves who fail instead of predetermining the reasons and putting measures in place? How are we certain that these measures will work if there is no dialogue with the students who are at the heart of the education system?

What are the concerns of that more than 50 per cent of our students who failed? Is it that they felt that they had received inadequate teaching? Do they feel they lacked resources? Did their school environment contribute to their failure?

Do they believe that their parents contributed to their failure? Do they believe that they put in the necessary work to have passed these core subjects? Do they KNOW what the necessary work is, in order to reap success?

I ask these questions because I reflect on an experience where a significant number of pupils failed a test at the end of a unit of study. Baffled by this, I proceeded to have a discussion with the students because they had performed well during in-class activities and gave positive feedback.

During the discussion, many of the students admitted that they simply had not studied for the test. At the time, they felt that they had too many things doing and didn't take the time to prepare. Therefore, they could only respond to those questions that they recalled from class discussions and could not give in-depth answers to essay-type questions.

Students who take CSEC examinations are predominantly senior students in fourth or fifth form who can provide us with very useful data as to why they are failing, why approaches might not be working, and how we may attempt to correct the deficiencies.

Let's seek answers from these vital individuals for whom the entire system was designed before we begin the blame game.



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