Education Minister Anthony Garcia says students and teachers were given adequate time to prepare for the changes to this year's SEA examination.
This comes amid growing concern that some parts of the Mathematics section of the exams were not appropriate for Standard 5 students.
But in a statement issued Monday, the minister said the changes were made with sufficient time.
The following is the minister's statement.
"Following the sitting of the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) by over 18,000 students on Thursday 4th April, 2019, there has been some concern surrounding the level of difficulty of the examination and the level of preparedness of the students.
The Ministry of Education takes this opportunity to clarify for the general public some of the realities leading up to the 2019 examination.
The SEA 2019 had some changes in comparison to the examinations written in previous years.
These changes were implemented as a result of the review that is done on the examination every four (4) years and as a result of recommendations coming out of the National Consultations on Education.
To facilitate the changes that were coming to the examination, a new SEA Syllabus was prepared, evaluated, pre-tested, teachers were trained and subsequently the final syllabus was distributed to the national community in 2017.
The changes were given to the then Standard four students who would be writing the examination in 2019.
This allowed for the students to be adequately prepared for the changes that were to come in the 2019 sitting of the SEA including the variety of questions contained in the Mathematics paper.
As it pertains to the question of the level of difficulty incurred during the Mathematics component of the exam this year, the Minister of Education the Honourable Anthony Garcia stated “The SEA is a placement examination used to assess students for assignment to a secondary school. Every examination from SEA to CAPE contains some level of difficulty for each student and must have a wide variety of questions from simple recall to some that require greater thought and analysis. The ‘challenge’ that some may have identified this year, is the critical thinking/reasoning element that was added to the paper. This component was added as a result of responses and concerns raised during Consultations on the inability of students to think critically and problem solve. Let me assure concerned parents that a standard part of the marking process is the analysis of student responses. This permits for allowances to be made to the mark scheme if it is realized that there were challenges with particular questions for a high percentage of students. This process is already underway by CXC.”
The Minister also noted that in the public ventilation of concerns on the SEA, there have been no questions arising on the administration of the exam, Minister Garcia has commended all personnel involved in administering the exam for their diligence and professionalism with the respective tasks assigned."