Without meaning to belabour any of the points already raised in the ongoing debate over CXC’s decision to administer its examinations in July, I wish to add my voice to this debate. CXC is proceeding with these exams with, what many perceive to be, reckless haste. But let’s take a look at both sides of this decision.
CXC’s main argument for proceeding with the July exams is to avoid disadvantaging any school-leavers this year. All major universities and colleges in the world begin their ‘fall’ semester in September. If the exams are held any time later than July, CXC cannot guarantee that results will be out before the end of September, which will be too late for school-leavers (especially those in Upper 6) to gain entry into any of these institutions. They will then have to wait until January of next year to begin their tertiary studies. This is, indeed, a formidable argument. But let’s take a look at the other side of that coin.
CXC’s decision to omit the Paper II from its exams this year seems to me to be counter-productive and contradictory, given its main reason for insisting that these exams cannot and must not be held later than July. Wouldn’t the very students whom CXC doesn’t wish to disadvantage be disadvantaged?
The Paper II carries 50 per cent of the overall mark for each subject, as against Paper I, which is 30 per cent, and Paper III, which is 20 per cent. There has to be a reason why the Paper II is so heavily ‘weighted’ and that’s because it tests the candidates in a way and on a level that the other two papers don’t. How can CXC now tell us that the removal of the Paper II will in no way compromise the level of matriculation? I am hardly convinced. Indeed, I don’t think even CXC is convinced by its own argument!
Can those results stand up to scrutiny in the world of academia? What will be the disposition of the tertiary institutions toward those results once they know that a huge and significant part of the exam was left out? Is CXC not jeopardising our students’ chances of gaining entry into these schools when they have to compete with applicants from other parts of the world who would have done exams that had a little more ‘worth’ than ours?
If one part of an exam is removed, then the other parts must be adjusted in such a way so as to maintain the same degree of soundness and rigorousness of the exam. This is what universities and colleges throughout the UK have done, and I suspect the same goes for those in other parts of Europe. As far as I am aware, CXC is not making any attempt to adjust Papers I and III in any way, so how can they expect us to believe that quality will not be compromised? And if the exams are going to be held in schools (with some social distancing, I suspect), then what’s the reason for leaving out Paper II? Have your exams in July if you must, but why omit Paper II?
And as I am writing this, a final thought just came to me. There are some schools that have opted to do both Units 1 and 2 of CAPE at the end of the two years in Form 6, which CXC allows schools to do if they so choose. Unlike their Upper 6 counterparts in most other schools who would have done all three papers for Unit 1, these students will be graduating from school with one IA and two multiple choice papers and ready to enter the faculties of law, social sciences humanities, etc. Has CXC really thought this out carefully?