School Based Assessment key to students' advance in science

by Terrence Esseboom
Guyana Chronicle
May 23, 1999

SCHOOL Based Assessment (SBA) can provide the "quantum leap" Guyana's education system needs to take advantage of imminent scientific and technological changes, Deputy Chief Education Officer (Administration) Mr Owen Alleyne said.

Addressing local Biology and Chemistry teachers Thursday, at a special two-day workshop organised by the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC), Alleyne stressed that science should be regarded as the "lynch pin" for changes needed to accelerate progress.

He said the SBA component of the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) test will help teachers and the secondary school population master essential national development skills in short supply in the country.

Mr Alleyne warned that participants should not squander the opportunities provided by the CXC to enhance their pedagogical skills.

The two-day event was held at the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD), Battery Road Kingston, and some 40 subject specialists attended.

Subject specialists, Ms Althea Maughn, Chemistry, and Ms Anna May Edwards-Henry, Biology, were the two facilitators who conducted the seminar.

When he spoke, Mr Lennox McLeod, CXC Assistant Registrar, Syllabus, told participants at the opening formality, that SBA provides feedback to students on their performance, and this helps "build (their) self-confidence".

Of late, there has been a litany of complaints from both teachers and their charges about the extra burden the scheme places on then.

McLeod noted however, that SBAs test various skills which cannot be evaluated in a written examination.

He pointed out too, that the strategy "reduces cheating by students and teachers...and encourages group interaction".

Delivering an overview of the workshop, the CXC official said that the complaints from the two groups have been the subject of numerous discussions across the Region, and, as a compromise, some want the examination board to "reduce the number of SBAs" to be submitted by candidates.

For him, the SBA facilitates "formative evaluation of the pupils' performance, encourages professional development of educators (and) provides validity for the (Regional) examination".

Chief Education Officer, Mr Ed Caesar, who also spoke at the opening ceremony, lauded the SBA innovation by the CXC officials, pointing out that the plan has empowered teachers.

Caesar said too, that it encourages careful planning by teachers and those enrolled to write the regional test, and provides good grounding for school-leavers willing to pursue tertiary education.

The CXC scheme can also be considered as a "minor apprenticeship scheme for students", Caesar explained.

Mrs Zohora Singh, Assistant Chief Education Officer (ACEO) with responsibility for secondary learning was however dissatisfied with the quality of SBAs produced by local students.

Singh blamed the exodus of trained teachers, poor management of time by students and "lack of accessibility to resource materials" for the sub-standard SBAs produced by students.

Meanwhile, the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) will be formally launched Thursday in Region Six, (East Berbice/Corentyne), Singh told the Chronicle.

She said students enrolled at Berbice High School (BHS), New Amsterdam Multilateral and J.C. Chandisingh Secondary Schools will write the new CXC test which will eventually replace the GCE `A' Level examination offered by Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.

Eight new subjects - Computer Science, Art and Design, Economics, Geography, Geometrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Law and Management of Business - will be introduced into the curriculum from the next academic year beginning September to reflect the new development thrust of CXC.

It was also mooted that Environmental Science, Psychology, Political Science, Agriculture Science, Sociology and Home Economics Management will also be introduced later to reflect the labour market needs of CARICOM countries.

Some 900 students in the Region recently wrote the pilot examinations in Caribbean Studies, History, Statistical Analysis, Functional Spanish, Mathematics and Communications.

New subjects inserted in schools' curricula since last September include Applied Mathematics, Electrical Technology, Accounts, Spanish, History Two and Literatures in English. CAPE is to offer a total of 30 different tests by 2001.

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples