CXC/CSEC EXAMINATION RANKING: SENSELESS STATISTICS

14 Aug

I’ve always loved this cartoon…it accurately captures how assessments are carried out in our education system

 

I find the ranking of schools based on CXC passes as unfair, unjust, unreasonable, absurd, preposterous, illogical, unreliable and senseless as can be. CXC/CSEC passes do NOT reflect the performance of a school.

Let us look at some facts:

Type of Students:  All schools are different and function under varying circumstances.   Most schools like a Campion college is ranked number one at the CXC/CSEC level with every cohort of student that enter its doors. You know why?  The students who most time matriculate to such an institution are always the top students in the GSAT examination. They scored grades 96-100.    More often than not, the students who attend this particular institution, are from affluent backgrounds, thus their parents can provide all the relevant resources and pay for numerous extra-classes or better yet TUTORING SESSION that these students need. It therefore stands as foregone decision that these students will five years later, produce similar results to make the institution be ranked at number one.

Meanwhile in another institution such as  such as Tacious Golding High or any other school that is currently ranked at the bottom of this performance listing, generally receive a quota of students who perform at the lowest levels in the GSAT examination. It can therefore be postulated that such schools would have been ranked at that level the moment it receives it cohort of students each year.

Environment:  How many of you have ever been on the grounds of a Campion College?  If not, you need to. That place is like a mini university. The moment you enter the gates, there is an atmosphere of business.  You pass a well-kept and design parking lot and enter a COURT YARD!   Can you believe that?  This court yard reminds you of the European/renaissance era. How many schools possess that. The compound is huge! There are adequate classrooms, pools, tennis courts, a STATE OF THE ART LIBRARY, and the list goes on.  You all know what a university looks like so just imagine a mini model of that.  This is an environment conducive for learning.  Compare this to a school where there is no parking lot or if there is one it accommodate no more than five vehicles;  classrooms are inadequate and classes are conducted under trees; rooms are over crowded with only a few feet students from the chalkboard;  library is housed in a make shift room with out dated books; the computer room has about 15-20 computers to serve the entire school populace (and I am talking hundreds of students). Some schools are even situated in the heart of garrisons where classes are sometimes interrupted by acts of violence.

 

THE Court Yard at Campion College High School

Resources:  This is always a sore point in discussion about education.  Most schools tend to have a deficiency in this area but some schools are more chronic.  If Campion is a min-university, then you know that resources are in abundance.  There are other schools that are average where as these are concerns but some are less than average.  The fact is, without resources, (books; lab equipment; technology, among others) the teaching and learning process with be challenging.

These are by no means the only reasons Because others such as The quota of students sent for CXC/CSEC sitting by an institution; the policies of schools, etc… but I think I have made my point with these few.

The main point is, even though these schools receive poor performance students, do not possess an environment conducive for learning, lack resources, and do not produce results of a Campion College, it does NOT mean the school is under performing.   When you are doing laundry, do you wash your whites with your dark colours? I didn’t think so.  You separate them to ensure the whites remain snow white without being affected by the dye from the dark colours.  There are also those outfits that are made from delicate fabric and you will launder those separately. Some you take to the cleaners.  Like your laundry, you cannot just bundle all schools together and then label some schools as poor performing institutions. In assessing performance of schools several approach could be taken;

  • Assess schools in categories:  Bundle schools with similar capacity like Campion College and assess them against each other and vice versa for the others;
  • Assess schools against themselves: assessment in the form of  pre-test should be done one schools to determine where they are; subsequent post-test should be done which could be the CXC/CSEC and then compare the post-test with pre-test.  Then the performance of such institution can be determined.
  • Five year Plan: all schools have a five year plan.  Look what in that five year plan addresses student’s performance. Then when the assessment is done, you look at the progress of the institution and deduce from the results to see whether or not the school was on a path to achieve what is laid out in that five year plan.

The ranking of schools in this manner has made CXC/CSEC examination more about statistics than the students.  In an effort to be ranked among top performers based on CXC/CSEC results have caused several institutions to implement policies that prevent students from sitting these examinations earlier than the eleventh grade. This is because the institution would not have that student as part as its statistics when the same cohort of student sits the examination in the eleventh grade.  I find this unreasonable as it is marring the progress of students.  If a student or the parents believe they are capable of taking on the task of sitting a subject at an earlier age, then I do not believe that any school has the right to hold such a student back. But such is the direct consequence of these unfair, unreasonable, and unreliable ranking of schools based on CXC/CSEC passes.

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13 Responses to “CXC/CSEC EXAMINATION RANKING: SENSELESS STATISTICS”

  1. Natasha Griffiths August 14, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

    Well articulated Ms. Reid.

  2. tee August 15, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

    This line of argument, nullifies individual input into their own achievement. The data was just represnting actual facts. X percentage of students per high school that passed 5 or more subject. There it is, nothing else. Is the data represented true? Yes!! . Any other discussion is irrelevant to the purpose of the data gathered.

    • rainereid August 16, 2013 at 5:53 am #

      Tee, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I am afraid you have taken a rather myopic view of performance. My question to you is what facts was the data representating and how factual are these facts?

  3. Andrea August 16, 2013 at 7:16 pm #

    I really cannot understand there is all this hoopla about the statistical results. If anyone would choose a school based on a single set of statistics, would that make sense? Why the focus on Campion as the uber example? Look at Wolmers and other schools that are basically now “poor people pickney” schools that scrape together meager resources AND PRODUCE RESULTS! The choice of a school that is a good fit must be more than that. There are other aspects to the statistics and the hullabaloo that I found interesting. Math and English are basic subjects that take you right through life- cook, mechanic, engineer, doctor, teacher lawyer etc etc etc The table is not first and foremost judging based on history, biology, etc etc….What is really really wrong with gauging where the schools are based on these basic subjects – Math and English? We are fooling ourselves and our children by having them think it is ok to dumb themselves down because they are not “academic”. We need to school our children to fit in the WORLD, not JAMAICA, if Jamaica plans to be left behind!! In the global arena blue collar workers – plumbers, electricians, building contractors – cannot maintain their licenses (aka, they CANNOT WORK in their field) unless they go back to school every few years and re-train… in guess what MATH! By your recommendation of stratification, you are introducing another subjective element that would cause additional statistics to be questioned. Who will determine these tiers? Who will administer it? The MOE can’t even manage what they have now, much less to give them additional stratification. Understandably, that’s what they erroneously were trying to eliminate by lumping the schools together. We are missing the point. The government should NOT have upgraded the Secondary schools without giving them adequate resources to be on par with High Schools. Stop blaming the messenger and focus on the real issue. the MOE and its ass-backward policies that come out like a wild wild west long ranger with his gun half cocked and therefore shoots himself in the foot.

    • rainereid August 16, 2013 at 8:43 pm #

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Andrea. Campion was used as an example because it was ranked at number one and I know of its facilities first hand. I agree with you that students cannot be assessed based on mere math and English. I spoke to several factors that could impact students performance and admitted that I have also omitted others. Those others include a lack of vocational aspects in some schools versus others. Performance of any institution has to be holistic and that is why the five year plan of any school is important because this should account for expected level of growth my school and strategies to achieve this. Inadequate resources have always been a major problem among schools. I am not shooting the messenger but merely pointing out the ranking has short comings and do not adequately reflect the performance of schools.

  4. Celia Middleton August 16, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

    Student A – Child of a Nuclear family mother is an attorney, father a bank manger, both parents have masters degrees, there are four persons in the family. Student A has his/her own laptop with high speed internet connection, access to online encyclopedias. His/her parents spend money on 2 co-curricular activity of student’s a choice, there is a library in the house, student A has a set place to do home work in the house where student A can work undisturbed which is also separate from Student A’s bedroom. Student A’s parents are involved in Student A’s life buys all required resources for school and takes an interest in Student A’s academic performance. Student A attends School A ranked 1 – 10 of the ranking. Student A lives in a quiet middle class residential community.

    Student B – Child of an extended family, mother is a factory worker, biological father is overseas, Step-fathers vary from unemployed to hustling, neither parent has completed secondary education There are are on average 8 persons in Student B’s family depending on which step is in the picture. Student B is the second eldest and has the responsibility of looking after younger siblings and step siblings. There is no computer at the home and Student B has to go to local internet cafes to complete assignments and do research. the only library Student B has access to is the National one as the one at school has out-dated resources. Student B does not have the set texts for school as his/her parents could not afford to buy them during the summer months and when money became available during the year, the books were no longer in the book stores. At home Student B shares his/her room with four younger siblings and has to study via street light as there is no space to do school work as they all share the one bed in the room. Student B’s parents have no time to visit school, or know what is happening academically in Student B’s life. Student B cannot participate in any co-curricular activity as he/she is responsible for younger siblings who finish school earlier the Student B and his/her parents cannot afford after care. Student B ALSO attends School A. Student B lives in a low income mixed community little above a so called Garrison.

    Compare student A and B … When comparing A and B there are many factors which are taken into account when their performance is compared so how can it be that schools are compared when the only thing they have in common is that the students sit the same external examination?

    • rainereid August 16, 2013 at 8:46 pm #

      thank you Celia for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. There are so many factors to take into consideration when doing an assessment because schools have nuances and we need to account for them.

  5. Sean August 17, 2013 at 12:03 am #

    So what you are saying is, if no one quantifies the disparity in passes amongst the schools then it really isn’t a fact? I think the intention was not to say who was better than whom but to report what actually transpired. Now that the data is out there, then collectively we all need to do something about it. Volunteer at one of those lower performing schools to help. “Adopt” a student and provide tutoring services, MOE can hold some of these teachers to task and get them properly trained. There are so many things to focus on other than why the facts are the facts. My father grew up in a house with ten siblings and he is the eldest, no running water, no electricity, no library, one room school, no father, etc. He made through the adversity and has lived a fairly comfortable life. My point is it is doable but a lot of the onus rests on the child to want better.

    • rainereid August 17, 2013 at 4:13 am #

      The sharing of your thoughts is appreciated. Thanks Sean.

      What I am saying is that the current mode of assessing schools does not reflect the performances of schools and must be thoroughly examined.

      I agree with you that all hands are needed on deck from all our stakeholders if education must be improved and this is something all education bodies (JTA, PTAJ, PAJ, must lobby for.

      I must commend your father for braving the odds and rise above his circumstances a trait no doubt he would have pass on to you. Please remember Sean that kids are kids and they can be irresponsible thus they have to be properly guided. They have to be taught responsibility and certain values. These responsibilities and values include choices and focusing on wanting better for themselves. That is why your point about mentoring is quite potent.

  6. R A March 8, 2015 at 6:03 am #

    Your argument could be applied to almost every other ranking system in existence, such as Champs, football competitions, dancing competitions etc. Those with more talent and resources will rank higher. Do you think a similar system should be applied to these as well? Also, don’t you think that putting the schools in different tiers might cause their standards for what are ‘good grades’ become lower? The solutions you have offered do not seem to be aimed at improving the actual performance of the schools, but seem merely to be aimed at improving their perceived performance. Perhaps the second and third suggestions would work well in conjunction with something else, but they would not lead to improved performances on their own. Lastly, you seem to have an antagonistic relationship with Campion College. Campion does not class discriminate. I attend Campion and I got there because of my hard work. I have never once attended a tutoring session in my life, nor have any of my friends. People from all socio-economic classes attend the school; there is no over-abundance of ‘rich’ students. Students achieve their places at the school based on academic merit, which they often attain through hard work. Why should they not get to partake in what Campion has to offer? What are you suggesting that Campion College should do?

    • rainereid March 9, 2015 at 12:51 am #

      R A thank you for being a part of this discussion….the concept of categorizing schools is not so much about comparing them with each other not ranking in terms of 1, 2, 3….it is about assessing and measuring them by where they currently are against where they should be. So the bench marker is not other schools where there is a major disparity in several things….as for the antagonistic relationship you are alluding to that I have with campion, i am not sure what in the article made you arrive at that conclusion. But i will certainly tell you that you have missed the point. In this article, campion is being used to show the disparity that exists between highly resource schools and the extremely under resourced. I could have used any other school. you need not take it so personal that you miss the point that is being made.

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