February 11, 2014
Ensuring smooth transition from Common Entrance era

Fri Jan 17, 2013

We are on the homestretch to completing the first full round of the Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment (CPEA), as the gauge for elevating primary school students to the secondary school level.{{more}}

Come the end of this school year, there will not be the customary School Leaving exams, with one sitting of Language, Math and General Paper exams, to determine the student’s level of readiness for secondary education and also, especially where the parents are concerned, whether the child placed high enough in the national ranking to get into a preferred secondary school.

The CPEA does have an exam component, which we understand will be held around the middle of May, but the exam mark accounts for only part of the student’s overall grade, with greater emphasis now placed on the student’s performance in class.

This new method of assessment was developed by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) and piloted two years ago in Grenada and Anguilla, with Grenada opting for a nationwide roll-out, rather than testing through selected primary schools. It has since been introduced in other Eastern Caribbean territories, and we understand that St Vincent and the Grenadines has also gone the route of a full roll-out in all primary schools.

We note that apart from the occasional comment about the increased workload, the majority of teachers, especially those teaching the current Grade Six exam classes, seem to have largely embraced the new assessment method, and they ought to be commended. Many of those teachers have indicated that the increased classwork requirement, especially the group projects and book reports, has meant longer hours of marking and supervision. The change has also called for rapid adjustment to methods of classroom delivery, and the teachers appear to have learnt quickly from the CXC provided initial sensitization programmes.

We also need to applaud the parents, who would have had to be forgiven if they had some apprehension about their children being the first to test the new programme. But again, we have not seen any noticeable public outcry against the programme and its implementation. Parents seem to have even become comfortable with the group, project-based approach to much of the class work, even when many, especially those with ‘brighter kids’ would have been expected to prefer the old individualised, competitive approach of the past.

Based on the general feedback, the implementation of this new programme seems to be on track, despite the minor concerns. It is important that all concerned continue to work together to ensure that this first year of the CPEA is marked by a smooth transition from the Common Entrance era, especially for these first-time students.