Ministry seeking clarity about spike in Ungraded CXC scores
Minister of Education, Curtis King
Front Page
September 1, 2023
Ministry seeking clarity about spike in Ungraded CXC scores

An unusually high number of Ungraded scores returned by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) to Vincentian students who sat the May/June 2023 examination has local Ministry of Education officials concerned and seeking clarity from the regional examination body.

Minister of Education, Curtis King, spoke to SEARCHLIGHT on the sidelines of the Principals’ Seminar held on Tuesday, August 29 where he explained that the discrepancies with the preliminary results has resulted in a delayed release of the public report.

Minister King said there are at least two secondary schools where an entire class who sat the Accounts and Theatre Arts exams at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) level all received Ungraded scores.

“There were other schools but they were not at the level of the whole class.”

A similar situation also occurred for the Communication Studies exam at the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) level where students who were absent for Paper 1 as a result of the passage of Tropical Storm Bret on Friday, June 23 also received Ungraded.

“… SVG and St Lucia couldn’t do the exams because of national shutdown. We were asking that there be a re-sit of the exams, but CXC said no they would employ the modified approach but when the results returned in our case the students received ungraded.”

The Minister also raised an issue with the results of the CSEC Mathematics. The May 17 examination proved to be a headache for CXC officials after Paper 2 was leaked to students in several territories. They were forced to employ a modified approach for grading which only included Paper 1 and the School Based Assessment (SBA). Minister King revealed that the 2023 national Mathematics average is 37 per cent, however, he is not in agreement with a modified grading result being compared to a full examination result.

“When comparisons are made … it should be apples with apples not apples with bananas. Last year for CXC, the average pass rate for Mathematics across the region was 33 per cent. In SVG it was 29 [per cent]. This year our pass rate is 37 per cent so on the face of it, it is showing an increase, but you cannot compare the performance of this year with last year. Last year was two papers, this year was a modified approach. The two occasions where a modified approach was used to grade Mathematics, SVG scored above 50 per cent so how come now when you used the modified approach again, we are less than 50 per cent. If that stands true then we really should be comparing with 2021 which was the last time we did the modified approach.”

He disclosed, in his presentation to school leaders, that based on the preliminary results, the national pass rate was “in excess of 70 per cent”. This would be an increase on the 2022 results – 66.55 per cent pass rate -but still lower than the 2021 pass rate which was 83.48 per cent. The Minister said, in light of these issues, he believed the release of the public report was impractical.

“These are serious issues … we need to know what is the situation. CXC has given the commitment to having these issues cleared up. I didn’t want to give the figure that they [CXC] presently have because it (the pass rate) could go up. But in the face of the situation where we don’t have that clarity, putting out the normal report that we [usually] do might not be best.”