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No major COVID fallout in CXC results, says JTA boss

Published:Thursday | September 24, 2020 | 12:14 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Staff Reporter
Janice Julal, principal; of Denbigh High School in Clarendon.
JTA President Jasford Gabriel.

Despite adjustments in the usual format of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC)-administered tests and the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting the last school term, Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) President Jasford Gabriel said that all these challenges did not seem to have “a debilitating effect on the exam results”.

The CXC released Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE) results on Tuesday. CSEC mathematics and English language returned a pass rate of 55.6 per cent and 83.9 per cent, respectively.

With 76.5 per cent of Jamaican students who sat subjects at the CSEC level being awarded grades one to three, Gabriel said that initial feedback from some schools suggests that there was no great variation in results between those of the COVID-19 era reformatted tests and what schools would generally expect in previous years.

While noting that there were improvements and declines in some areas, the JTA president said that there were cases in which queries would have to be made, especially at the CAPE level.

“We have quite a few students who are getting ‘Ungraded’ for school-based assessments (SBAs) that were submitted but that will be dealt with through the queries process,” he said.

“You have some persons who have had excellent results. Some are a little disappointed, but on average, it seems similar to what we have come to expect each year.”

Some principals who The Gleaner contacted yesterday said that they were still pulling down the exam results to carry out their analysis.

Janice Julal, principal of Denbigh High School in Clarendon, said that the preliminary results were encouraging.

“We have got voice notes from students and parents, some of them even crying, just happy for the good results they got and thanking the teachers for going the extra mile with them,” she told The Gleaner.

Julal said that preliminary results for CSEC physics, for example, have indicated a 90 per cent pass rate at the school.

She revealed that Denbigh High had already incorporated Google Classroom into the school’s general lessons, so when face-to-face classes were suspended in March as a result of COVID-19, the institution transitioned seamlessly into the online mode of teaching, especially at the grades 10 to 13 level.

“When we closed in March, the upper-school students had already been placed in Google Classroom. They were used to submitting SBAs on the Google Classroom, so it was not difficult for them,” said Julal.

Students without access to the necessary technology received support from the teachers, who pooled their resources to purchase tablets, phones, and laptops so that SBAs could be completed as failure to submit these results in an automatic failure or ‘Ungraded’.

“When we resumed in June for the face-to-face period, it was really more of a mopping up and getting the children back into the kind of focus that we expected,” Julal said.

Speaking yesterday at a press conference, Education Minister Fayval Williams said that the CSEC and CAPE results could not be compared with those of 2019 due to the adjusted format for the tests.

For the CSEC exams, there were 233,723 subject entries from Jamaican candidates. Of that number, 167,469, or 76.5 per cent, were awarded passes – grades one to three.

A further breakdown showed that 39,461, or 18.03 per cent, received grade ones while 62,694, or 28.65 per cent, were awarded grade twos. Additionally, 65,314, or 29.85 per cent, got grade threes.

The ministry said that the total subject entries for males were 93,093, with 85,111, or 91.4 per cent, actually sitting the exams. Of that number, 63,395, or 74.5 per cent, attained “the required grades”.

Total subject entries for females were 140,630, with 133,704, or 95.1 per cent, sitting the exams. Of that number, 104,074, or 77.8 per cent, got grades one to three.

Turning to the CAPE results, the ministry reported that of the 39,562 sittings, 36,469 attained grades one to four, for a 92 per cent pass rate.

Final grades were awarded this year based on moderated SBAs and multiple-choice assessments.

Editor's note: The reference to mathematics and English language pass rates of 55.6 per cent and 83.9 per cent, respectively, may have been interpreted as an average for both CAPE and CSEC. The percentages refer to CSEC only.