Chief Education Officer Olato Sam is assuring the public that the changes to the layout of the Grade 6 examinations will have no adverse effects on the students who will be writing the exam at the end of the month.
In an invited comment Sam explained to Stabroek News that the changes which include a request for students to write their names on the answer sheets are for administrative purposes and have no bearing on the marking process.
“It is a failsafe mechanism. In the event that there is an error in the written candidate number this is a backup mechanism to verify to whom the paper belongs. In the event that a candidate writes a 6 instead of a 0 or we are unable to differentiate between the two numbers the only way we will have to reconcile that problem is to have that stub. Every assessment has failsafe mechanisms,” he said.
There have been several complaints that the request for students to include their names on the answer sheets will allow examiners to be able to identify candidates and therefore be subjective in their marking.
PPP/C spokesperson on Education and former Education Minister Priya Manickchand at a PPP press conference yesterday noted that students have always written the examinations using only candidate numbers. As such she could not see the value of a name which could cause more trouble. “Parents have expressed great terror that the request for names on the paper can lead to discrimination and are asking the Ministry to withdraw this senseless requirement,” she said.
Sam’s comments followed a statement yesterday from the Ministry of Education which explained what information students will be asked to provide.
“As it relates to candidate information, the two papers require different sets of information. For paper one, the answer sheets will have the candidate information—candidate name and identification number—already printed or ‘pre-slugged’. The candidates are required to write/sign their names as a mechanism to ensure that the candidate for whom the paper was prepared is actually the one who answers the questions. This will have no implications for marking because these answer sheets are all marked electronically, “the statement said.
It added that for “paper two, the cover page of the answer sheet is bifurcated and perforated. The Test Code, Subject, and Candidate Number are required on both sides. The Test Code and Subject will already be printed while candidates will be required to write in their Candidate Number—this information is provided for them on the timetables given to every candidate. Additionally, on the right half of the paper only, candidates are also required to write in the name of their school, their full name, date of birth and gender. The right side of the sheets are all detached prior to the commencement of the marking of paper two and retained for administrative purposes only. Thus, the information that would be evident during the marking process would be the Test Code, Subject, and Candidate Number only.”
Sam also denied that several schools were not properly informed of the changes in layout. According to him “schools were appraised well in advance. The sample papers were sent out a few weeks ago using the same mechanism we use to disseminate all assessments.”
He however admitted that some departments of education took longer than expected to disseminate the information even as he maintained that the students will have had enough exposure to the papers by the date of the exams
“We are convinced that a simple modification to layout and nothing else germane to the assessment will not affect students’ performance. Once they get a chance to see the layout there shouldn’t be any adverse effects,” he said.