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Members'   Views
BSTU President: Hold CXC responsible for unmarked papers
reproduced from the Weekend Nation (August 25th, 2017)
With students from at least five secondary schools receiving a mark of "ungraded" for school based assessments (SBAs) in more than one subject, president of the Barbados Secondary Teachers' Union (BSTU), Mary Redman, is calling for the Ministry of Education to hold the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) accountable.

She made it clear that their members had stuck to the Union's position and did not consent to grade the final papers, thus they were not in any way responsible for the blunder. Redman said the situation with projects going ungraded by CXC, which is responsible for administering the exam, was occurring "too often".

"They (CXC) have done this in various subjects, in various schools, repeatedly." she said.

Redman said that Bajan students were not the only ones being affected in this way. She said she was also aware that Information Technology students at a school in St. Lucia suffered a similar fate.

Students at Combermere School have publicly expressed their anger and disappointment after learning that their Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) management of business class and Caribbean Secondary Eduation Certificate (CSEC) geography were ungraded. Investigations are being conducted into these two matters. Redman said the impression was being given that Combermere students were the only ones affected, but that was far from the case.

The BSTU head said reports reaching the union indicated that an entire class of environmental studies and Caribbean studies students at the St. Michael School were left with their SBAs ungraded. Worse yet, a Principles of Business class at the Grantley Adams Memorial School received no grades at all. It is also understood that those marks were submitted to CXC twice because there was a glitch.

Some Agricultural Science students at Springer Memorial Secondary School were not given grades either this year, nor were the Communication Studies students at Harrison College.

Too Frequent

"These types of occurrences are happening far too frequently. A few years ago, every single student in fine arts received ungraded results. The BSTU's concern is this: "Where are the checks and balances at CXC?" she queried as she informed parents they could ask for an investigation and have the results reversed.

Redman also had questions for the ministry: "What is the Ministry of Education doing in taking the lead to protect Barbadian students and teachers? If the minister is saying that all is well with the SBAs, then when the results are released and whole classes at various schools receive ungraded results...what is the role of the ministry in holding CXC accountable?" she asked.

In addition to projects going ungraded, Redman affirmed that various schools - including Harrison College, Graydon Sealy and St. Leonard's - received the official results from CXC late. She said that, in some cases, the schools were forced to put the school stamp on results printed from online transcripts so that students could get in their applications for sixth form on time.

She said it was also the Union's understanding that CXC was having difficulty sourcing teachers to correct various exam components online, resulting in the deadlines for the submission of marks being extended by as much as two weeks.

Redman suggested that the relatively low fees paid by CXC for marking exam scripts (reportedly between 37 and 56 cents cents per script) might be deterring teachers from offering their services.

"It's an insult to teachers ... what message is being sent to teachers across the region who previously engaged in correction exercises in the various islands? What is CXC as a regional institution doing? What message are they sending to the teachers of the region re their level of appreciation for the work that have done for the past 41 years?" Redman asked.
© The Barbados Secondary Teachers' Union 2017
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