Garcia knocks fake Maths SEA marks

Tuesday, April 23, 2019 - 05:45

Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter An­tho­ny Gar­cia on Mon­day de­nied that the Caribbean Ex­am­i­na­tion Coun­cil (CXC) has tak­en a de­ci­sion not to mark two ques­tions in the Math sec­tion of the 2019 Sec­ondary En­trance As­sess­ment (SEA) ex­am­i­na­tion.

He al­so re­fut­ed claims that the high­est score at­tained in the Maths test was 88 per cent, as re­port­ed on so­cial me­dia on Mon­day, stat­ing that such in­for­ma­tion was de­signed to cre­ate mis­chief and pan­ic among par­ents and stu­dents ahead of to­day’s open­ing of the new school term.

His com­ments came hours af­ter for­mer Uni­ver­si­ty of the West In­dies so­ci­ol­o­gy lec­tur­er Kirk Meighoo in a Face­book post claimed had he ob­tained in­for­ma­tion that the high­est score at­tained in the Math sec­tion of the SEA ex­am­i­na­tion was a mere 88 per cent.

Meighoo, a po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst and for­mer so­ci­ol­o­gy lec­tur­er put this on his Face­book pro­file, stat­ed that he had re­ceived the in­for­ma­tion which should be checked against the fi­nal SEA scores.

Fol­low­ing the April 4 ex­am­i­na­tion, there was a litany of com­plaints that cer­tain ques­tions in the Maths pa­per, which was de­vel­oped by CXC, had been ex­treme­ly chal­leng­ing.

Over 18,000 stu­dents sat the ex­am­i­na­tion with its re­sults ex­pect­ed to be re­leased in ear­ly Ju­ly.

In an im­me­di­ate re­sponse, Gar­cia, who had main­tained that noth­ing was wrong with the Maths sec­tion af­ter par­ents and stu­dents raised com­plaints, de­scribed Meighoo’s post as “er­ro­neous and de­signed to con­fuse the gen­er­al pub­lic. No re­sults have been is­sued as yet. It is false in­for­ma­tion. Ob­vi­ous­ly this will cre­ate pan­ic and mis­chief among stu­dents and par­ents. This is pure mis­chief.” Gar­cia said his min­istry had no in­for­ma­tion that the high­est Math score was 88 per cent.

“Af­ter all the pa­pers have been marked, it is sub­ject to qual­i­ty con­trol. CXC has not com­mu­ni­cat­ed with the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion about its de­sire to leave out one, two or three ques­tions from the ex­am­i­na­tion dur­ing mark­ing of the pa­pers.”

He said as far as he knew the SEA pa­pers were in the process of be­ing marked “for the East­er va­ca­tion,” but could not say if it had been com­plet­ed.

“The ex­am was a part of the pri­ma­ry school cur­ricu­lum which was made avail­able to schools since 2017, cou­pled with train­ing ex­er­cis­es be­ing un­der­tak­en through the ed­u­ca­tion dis­tricts, so teach­ers were well pre­pared and in their prepa­ra­tion. I am sure they all pre­pared the stu­dents. What­ev­er is the out­come will de­pend on the per­for­mance of the stu­dents in the ex­ams.”

Gar­cia said the el­e­ment of se­cre­cy by CXC was very im­por­tant to them, while ex­am­in­ers have to re­main tight-lipped.

“We have the as­sur­ances from CXC that every­thing is above board and there are no leaks and dis­crep­an­cies in the pa­pers. If there are cas­es of dis­crep­an­cies, is­sues or prob­lems the qual­i­ty con­trol com­mit­tee would deal with that.”

He as­sured that a con­trol qual­i­ty of­fi­cer from the MOE will be leav­ing for Bar­ba­dos this week to en­sure ac­count­abil­i­ty and trans­paren­cy.

Chief Ed­u­ca­tion Of­fi­cer Har­ri­lal Seecha­ran in re­sponse to a text mes­sage on Mon­day said the da­ta en­try and qual­i­ty as­sur­ance checks have not been com­plet­ed by CXC as yet.

“The in­for­ma­tion be­ing cir­cu­lat­ed is pre­ma­ture and ap­pears to be an at­tempt to cre­ate fear. Our in­for­ma­tion is that there are stu­dents who scored 100 per cent,” Seecha­ran in­sist­ed.

Mean­while, Gar­cia said his min­istry would al­so take a de­ci­sion as to whether or not the SEA re­sults would be pub­lished in the news­pa­pers.

“I have a le­gal opin­ion which I will be shar­ing with the tech­ni­cal of­fi­cers at our strate­gic ex­ec­u­tive meet­ing to­mor­row (to­day). Based on the le­gal opin­ion and oth­er opin­ions we have been get­ting, we will take our de­ci­sion.”

Gar­cia al­so as­sured that all is set for the re-open­ing of schools to­day.

“The feed­back to me is that every­thing is on stream with the re-open­ing of schools. Of course, I would not be sur­prised if there are one or two hic­cups,” he said.

- by Shaliza Hassanali