Principals: Maths question not on syllabus...
By Sue-Ann Wayow firstname.lastname@example.org
Story Created: May 9, 2013 at 9:11 PM ECT
Story Updated: May 10, 2013 at 6:50 AM ECT
PRIMARY school principals complained yesterday that a mathematics question that came as part of the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) examination was never taught to pupils because the topic was no longer on the relevant syllabus.
The Express was told that some pupils who were unable to answer the question were left in tears.
The Ministry of Education has denied this but said if the majority of children did not do well in a particular question, marks could be “tweaked” to be more accommodating.
Yesterday, 18,039 children wrote the exam, which was previously held in March.
It was also the first time the Continuous Assessment Component (CAC) was implemented.
Lynsley Doodhai, president of the National Primary Schools Principals’ Association (NAPSPA), issued a press release shortly after the exam was completed at around 11.30 a.m.
Doodhai stated: “Principals have complained to NAPSPA that question number 35 of the mathematics paper was based on the topic ‘Proportion and Ratio’, a topic that is no longer on the primary school mathematics syllabus, having been removed many years ago. This question carries a weighting of three marks out of a total score of 100 marks.”
Doodhai said he was told many pupils became emotional and frustrated during the examination when confronted with that question.
Principals said some children began crying during the 30-minute break between the mathematics and language arts papers, he said.
Some said pupils were unable to finish the mathematics paper and “their emotional well-being was disturbed for the language arts paper that followed the mathematics paper”.
Doodhai said the Ministry of Education should take responsibility as NAPSPA would have expected the Curriculum Division of the ministry to guide the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) as to the topics that were to be tested.
CXC is responsible for setting the exam.
Doodhai said: “NAPSPA is calling on the Ministry of Education to ensure that this item on the mathematics paper is not considered when the scripts are being marked. NAPSPA is also calling on the Ministry of Education to engage in dialogue with the CXC to ensure that such an unfortunate incident is not repeated in the future.”
However, Alicia Busby, the Ministry of Education’s communications management adviser, said she was told by the ministry’s chief education officer that the question was part of the syllabus.
But if there was a particular question that the majority did not do well in, the marking system could be tweaked to accommodate pupils.
Busby also said there were no major incidents, except for a power outage in one school (Las Cuevas Government Prima- ry School) that lasted for ten minutes.
Busby said the school called the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC) hotline that was set up especially for SEA and power was restored.
Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh said he did not wish to comment about Doodhai’s statements.
“I am advised by the chief education officer that it (SEA) went well without any hitches, and I want to thank all the students and wish them well in their results from the examination,” he said.
“I want to thank all those who supervised the examination processes, the parents who had their children at school and the entire national community for their prayers and wishes.”
The minister said if Doodhai had any issues, they could arrange for a meeting to discuss them.