Wednesday 27 May, 2020

Students had enough time to prepare for SEA exam changes, Garcia says


Students who wrote the 2019 Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) examination were given ample time to prepare for the placement test.

That’s according to Education Minister Anthony Garcia as he today addressed concerns that the Mathematics portion of the examination was too difficult and the students weren’t sufficiently prepared for the changes to the exam.

In a statement issued by the Education Ministry, Garcia noted that the 2019 exam featured changes in comparison to the examinations written in previous years.

The changes follow a review of the examination which is conducted every four years, as well as recommendations coming out of the National Consultations on Education.

To facilitate the changes that were coming to the examination, he said a new SEA Syllabus was prepared, evaluated, and pre-tested, teachers were trained and the final syllabus was distributed to the national community in 2017.

The Minister said the changes were given to the then Standard Four students who would be writing the examination in 2019. 

“This allowed for the students to be adequately prepared for the changes that were to come in the 2019 sitting of the SEA including the variety of questions contained in the Mathematics paper,” Garcia said.

Regarding specific concerns over the level of difficulty incurred during the Mathematics component of the 2019 exam, the Minister stated the exam, as with exams at higher levels of education, was meant to be challenging.

“The SEA is a placement examination used to assess students for assignment to a secondary school. Every examination from SEA to CAPE contains some level of difficulty for each student and must have a wide variety of questions from simple recall to some that require greater thought and analysis.

The ‘challenge’ that some may have identified this year, is the critical thinking/reasoning element that was added to the paper. This component was added as a result of responses and concerns raised during Consultations on the inability of students to think critically and problem solve."

Garcia added that special consideration would be given to students during the marking process if it is determined that specific questions were particularly challenging.

"Let me assure concerned parents that a standard part of the marking process is the analysis of student responses. This permits for allowances to be made to the mark scheme if it is realised that there were challenges with particular questions for a high percentage of students. This process is already underway by CXC.”

The SEA exam took place on April 4 and saw over 18,000 students registered.

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