Thursday 21 September, 2017

Garcia assures: Increased efficiency with SEA date change

Education Minister Anthony Garcia has defended the decision to change the date of the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exam.

The decision, which was approved by Cabinet, was announced at a media conference last week. The changes will take effect March 2019.  

Explaining the rationale behind the date change, Garcia indicated that the SEA exam was written in the second to last week of March of the second term annually from its inception in 2001 until 2011.

In 2012, when the Continuous Assessment Component was introduced, the date for the examination was changed to the first week of May in the third term to facilitate the new subjects and mark scheme that would be undertaken.

He noted, however, that the change of date to May annually has resulted in many hindrances to the efficiency and effectiveness of the administration of the examination and, upon investigation, it was found that the performance of students was not measurably impacted by the change.

Students currently in Standard five will write the exam in May 2018 while students currently in standard four will write the exam in the last week of the second term 2019.

Garcia assured the change will benefit the Ministry, teachers, parents and students to have a better quality administration process once the exam is written.

He noted that other benefits include: SEA papers being marked during the two week Easter vacation period; no need to temporarily close the secondary school selected as the marking centre; and teachers selected as markers by CXC would not be required to be away from the class.

The Minister further noted that the date change would allow for earlier processing of SEA data by CXC and timely submission of results to the Ministry of Education, thus facilitating an earlier completion of the national placement exercise.

The date change is also expected to give way to the possibility of an earlier date to release the SEA results to schools, and an earlier start and completion of the query and transfer process.

“Schools can now use the third term to conduct programmes aimed at preparing Standard five students for the transition to secondary school, and allow students to take part in activities they were previously excluded from such as Sports Day,” Garcia added.

The Minister also assured concerned parents and teachers that during the initial introduction of the examination all considerations would have been made for the delivery of the curriculum in the allocated time from Standard four to the last week of the second term of Standard five.

He said the allotted time of the third term for schools to prepare their students for the transition into secondary school was seen as a most necessary and crucial undertaking for the benefit of all students.