Reviews of Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) results are under way across the region, with 69 exam results from Cayman among those being re-assessed.

Education authorities in the Cayman Islands released information Tuesday morning on the 2020 results, three months later than the usual August release, stating that the delay was due to ongoing requests for grade reviews by schools in the region.

“The 2019-2020 academic year was absolutely impacted by the Coronavirus Covid-19 Pandemic,” Acting Director of the Department of Education Services Tammy Banks-DaCosta said in a press release. “This resulted in delays in the administration and awarding of grades by some external examination bodies. When grades for the CXC were issued in September, a number of candidates across the region voiced concern about the process and the grades received and requested reviews of their grades.

“As a result, the CXC Chairman commissioned a review of the entire process for the 2020 examinations, and a report titled, ‘Report of the Independent Review Team: Review of the Administration of the 2020 CSEC and CAPE Examinations by the Caribbean Examinations Council’ was subsequently produced and shared with member territories. The Cayman Islands Government Schools have submitted a total of 69 requests for review and we await final review by the CXC.”

The CXC results, initially released on 22 Sept., led to widespread criticism across the region from students who claimed their results did not reflect the work they had done during the academic year nor the scores they had expected to attain.

Many students worldwide, including in Cayman, did not sit exams in the traditional sense this summer, because schools were closed or social-distancing regulations meant pupils could not gather in halls to sit papers in person. Instead, in the case of the CXC’s Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC), exam papers with multiple-choice answers that could be submitted electronically, coupled with teacher assessments, formed the basis of the examinations.

The CXC exam review body, in its report, noted that an independent CXC Technical Advisory Committee had found that the modified exams that students took this year during COVID restrictions led to lower results than had been seen in previous years.

The modified examinations included ‘school-based assessments’ or SBAs, where teachers assessed students’ performances and gave them a score. However, the submission of the SBA scores led to an array of issues, including thousands of SBAs going missing, and therefore ungraded. The CXC review body found that this year, 11,578 SBAs were missing, compared to 8,062 which were missing last year.

The review also found that in 30,108 instances of subject entries, students were marked ‘absent’. This, however, was lower than in 2019 when there were 39,958.

The CXC has invited students, through their schools, to query incidents in which they attended their examinations but were marked absent or if they received an ‘ungraded’ result.

The review report recommended that all results marked ungraded or absent should be investigated and reviewed urgently by the CXC.

Cayman’s provisional exam results

The Cayman Islands Ministry for Education and the Department of Education Services stated in their release on the provisional local results that the performance of students in the exams indicated “an improvement over the past four years”, pointing to the number of Year 11 and 12 students who had gained five exam passes at Grade I, II or III (Level 2 qualifications).

Just over half – 52% – of the Year 12 students who sat the CXC exams passed five or more Level 2 subjects, including mathematics and English, the local results show. This was an increase over last year’s 47% of passes, but lower than 2018’s 54%.

The release noted that in the core curriculum subjects of English, mathematics and science, “growth has been maintained over time”, with the provisional results indicating that that the number of students achieving a Level 2 qualification in English reached an all-time high of 86.4%, compared to 74% in 2019.

Performance in mathematics, which education officials admitted were “continuing to be uneven”, showed some minor growth, reaching 54% compared to the 2019 figures of 49%, but down from 2018’s 57%.

The number of students achieving at least one science subject at Level 2 reached an all-time high of 71%, compared to 2019’s 58% performance, the local education authorities noted.

“Overall, we are showing modest gains from year-to-year attributed to strategies and interventions that have been implemented,” Banks-DaCosta said. “Success of these strategies and interventions is proven based on other clear indicators. This cohort’s 2019 performance in English was 75.3%, which is slightly higher than the student performance statistics in England, which was at 61.8% in 2019.”

The Department of Education Service said that any potential changes resulting from the CXC reviews will not affected the local results negatively.

The CXC exam review body, in its report, recommended that any re-evaluation of exam results would not lead to a lower score being allocated to a student.

The deadline for territories to submit requests for reviews had been extended until 6 Nov., the statement noted, but CXC has been re-examining results as submissions are received. Until the reviews are completed, all results are considered provisional.

Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, in the release, said Cayman’s students had performed “exceptionally well, given the challenges of the lockdown, including the transition to 100% remote learning and the change to the exam schedule”.

She added, “This speaks volumes for the level of support provided by our government school educators, support staff and, of course, their parents and guardians. The dedication that our students displayed in persevering through unchartered waters cannot be understated.”

330 graduate from government schools

The release stated that during October, 330 students graduated from government secondary schools and Lighthouse School. Of those, 157 graduates achieved their diploma with Level 2 ‘Honours’ and ‘High Honours’. Level 2 ‘Honours’ indicate that a student achieved seven exam passes with Grade I, II or III, or the grade equivalent in accepted exams other than CSEC. Level 2 ‘High Honours’ indicate nine passes at Grade I or II, or the grade equivalent in accepted exams other than CSEC. The subject area passes obtained must include English and mathematics.

At October’s graduation ceremony, Clifton Hunter High School Principal Richard Wildman stands with students Diamond Chambers and Joshua Peart, who were among three students at the school to attain ‘Top 10’ merit status in the region for their CSEC exam results in 2019. – Photo: Submitted

Among this year’s graduates were two students from Clifton Hunter High School who, in their CSEC exam results from last year, achieved Top 10 Merit status regionally.

Diamond Chambers ranked ninth in the region in Human and Social Biology and also tied with Joshua Peart for the seventh place rank in Integrated Science.

A third student from the school, Aaliyah Powell, who was an early entry in Year 10, ranked ninth in Electronic Document Preparation in the Top 10 regional merit list.

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