School exams moving to computers in 2017

Administrators working to build infrastructure, new method

school-testing-stockFilling in little circles on the Scantron sheet with a No. 2 pencil will be a thing of the past for students in Cayman government secondary schools. Starting in January, the Caribbean Examination Council tests will be giving all its Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate multiple choice exams on computers.

“This will affect everyone,” said Lyneth Monteith, acting chief education officer with the Department of Education Services. She said the biggest issues for the school system will be ensuring there are enough computers and suitable IT infrastructure for testing days.

The change will also affect the private schools that use the CXC exams. For teachers and students in government schools, the methods for teaching and preparing for the tests will have to change, Ms. Monteith said.

In a statement, CXC writes, “Electronic testing will bring regional learners up to speed with worldwide test-taking practices and provide them with the flexibility to interact with images, video, audio and other resources during their examinations.

“CXC’s electronic testing format will adhere to world-class security standards which will guarantee the integrity of the test taking.”

“There is phase-in time,” Ms. Monteith said, for everyone involved to switch over to the new electronic tests and for her department to make sure there are enough computers to go around.

“The basic issue will be the infrastructure and having enough computers for the largest exams,” she said. For John Gray and Clifton Hunter high schools, Ms. Monteith said, “two big exams last a whole day” and she estimates that 200 students at each school will take the tests at the same time.

“The other exams are manageable,” she said, and most tests can be done in existing school computer labs.

The Caribbean Examination Council, based in Barbados, notes in its news release, “This exciting, new initiative is in keeping with CXC’s commitment to observe global quality standards in the delivery of examination services and deliver enhanced learner experiences through the consistent use of technology.”

Sixteen countries use the CXC exams, including Cayman, Jamaica, Turks and Caicos, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The CXC curriculum is similar to the English GCSE system. The curriculum is taught across government schools and in several private schools in the Cayman Islands.