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It appears that even the officialdom within the Education Ministry is yet to get a grip on the modified system of announcing the results of the Primary Exit Profile or PEP examinations. There is just a week to go for the results to be published. The conventional method of awarding marks has been set aside and in its place, the students will be given grades. The issue at stake is how will the marks that are given by the examiners be converted to the corresponding grades?
Aligning with a More Universal Format?
The official explanation for switching to this new format of results is that the Jamaican education system is being aligned with the system for obtaining the CSEC (Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate) and CAPE (Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations). These systems do not publish the percentage of marks scored in the examinations. Instead, the parents receive a detailed report that may run into a few pages detailing the performance of their children. Again, this is the first time the new system is being tried here, whereas, the CSEC and CAPE systems of examinations are quite evolved and there is very little confusion.
A Balanced Approach to Reporting the Results
Another explanation offered for this change in the system is that each of the subjects on which the students are tested carries different total marks. One may assess the student for 100 marks in a particular subject and in another; the total of marks will be 80 only. This, the educators feel does not allow the scaling to be reported correctly. The new method will take into account these anomalies and allow the appropriate weight on the scale to reflect the actual performance of the student.
The Public May Want More
While such explanations may sound convincing, the ordinary people monitoring the progress of their children may wish to know more. The Ministry can put out a detailed note in the public domain with clear examples of how the new grades or scales compare with the previously followed marking system. That may help the students and parents to understand the kind of results they are achieving.
More clarity may emerge in the coming weeks.