With a view of improving the performances of students in the areas of Mathematics and English, the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) has proposed a Regional Strategy for Performance Improvement in the two subject areas. This development was highlighted by Pro-Registrar of CXC, Mr Glenroy Cumberbatch, even as the examining body met with scores of principals of schools across the country.
The meeting, held at the Guyana International Conference Centre (GICC), Turkeyen, East Coast Demerara, was strategically designed to have officials of CXC, who arrived in Guyana earlier this week, respond to concerns of the senior educators in relation to the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination.
This annual feature, according to Superintendent of Examinations within the local Education Ministry, Ms Saudia Kadir, is intended to have principals, in particular, have a better understanding of the direction that CXC is going.
“It is completely for their benefit; it is an opportunity for them to question CXC and have their concerns answered,” she asserted.
At least 14 questions, including concerns about School Based Assessments, the need for Resource material and the availability of mock examinations, were brought to the attention of the CXC officials ahead of the meeting. The educators in attendance yesterday were provided with detailed responses from CXC, through Cumberbatch, but also had the opportunity to gain further clarity.
In fact, Cumberbatch’s disclosure about the Regional Strategy was in response to a concern of the local educators in relation to “What strategies can CXC suggest for students’ mastery of Mathematics and English syllabuses?” This question was asked in light of students’ continued poor performances in the subject areas across the Caribbean.
According to Cumberbatch, the regional strategy proposed by CXC is one that can be replicated at the national level in order to engage teachers and students effectively at the classroom level. He disclosed yesterday that already some countries have begun implementing aspects of the proposed strategy, but noted that “our recommendation is that we need to take a holistic approach to this problem.”
Among the key elements of the approach is a move to solve the problem at the levels of Forms Four and Five to be successful.
It is the belief of CXC that addressing the problem of English and Mathematics must begin from the earliest stages of education and must be consistently followed through as students move from stage to stage. And in order for system-wide improvements to be achieved, Cumberbatch said that “we need to take an integrated approach and address things such as teacher capacity (teacher’s ability to effectively teach the subjects in ways that engage students and excite them); instructional support resources for both teacher and student.”
The Pro-Registrar noted though that it is recognised that performance improvement is not a “quick fix” but rather requires consistent and persistent application of policy solutions to achieve the desired results.
The process, according to him, can commence with the analysing of individual schools’ results over a period of time. There should be specific focus on subject reports for several years posted on the CXC website, which according to Cumberbatch, provides insight from the Examining Committee on the performances strengths and weaknesses, and advice on what schools need to pay attention to in order to improve.
“This should provide you with key pointers to the areas that you need focus on to improve student performance,” he noted.
The meeting yesterday was officially called to order by Chief Education Officer, Olato Sam, who described it as “an invaluable, rare opportunity… And I think we should count ourselves particularly lucky to be able to interface with the top brass of CXC to really get a deeper understanding of the processes that are so vital to the education system not only in Guyana, but in the Region in general.”
According to CXC Registrar, Dr Didacus Jules, while the aim of the forum was to respond to various concerns, the examining body may not have all of the answers. This, he said, is in light of the fact that “no matter how good something is, there is always room for improvement and this is what we are after…continuous improvement.”
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