Education Ministry decides on score for exam subsidy

The Ministry of Education has decided on the score that will be used as the basis for the selection of high school students whose Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate Examination (CSEC) and Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence (CCSLC) subjects will be paid for by the Government.
The decision is to use a score of 40 percent based on an end of year (Grade 10) composite score across the relevant subject areas. The score is to be revised over time as the national level of performance improves.
For the CCSLC examinations the students should be pursuing the five core subjects. Performance in CAPE is not considered an issue, thus no score is being applied to that examination.
In 2002, the Government of Jamaica introduced the payment of fees for four core subjects: English Language, Mathematics, Information Technology and a Science subject for students sitting the examination for the first time. This was in an effort to provide support to parents of students at the secondary level and encourage students to pursue key subject areas in the CSEC.
In addition, the Government pays the full cost for four subjects, comprising of six modules (including two compulsory subjects – Communication Studies and Caribbean Studies – in the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE). The introduction of the Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence (CCSLC) in 2007 also saw the Government paying for four subjects in that examination.
The subsidies that the Government provides for the external examinations are based on the entries for the particular subjects as provided by the schools. A significant percentage of absenteeism and an even higher level of students not attaining the required standard have resulted in considerable waste of Government’s funds. Although these issues impact both the CSEC and the CCSLC, they are more pervasive with respect to the CCSLC.
Analyses of the CSEC and CCSLC results revealed that there is a noticeable difference between the subject entries and the number of students who actually sat the examinations. For CCSLC, there was a large increase (almost 400%) in the number of entries in 2009 over 2008. At the same time, there has been a reduction in the overall percentage of students obtaining mastery and competence and a significant increase (26.3%) in the level of absenteeism. Overall performance rate was 34 percent in 2008 and 29 percent in 2009 while the rate of absenteeism increased from 23 percent to 27 percent. In the case of CSEC, except for 2005, the total difference in the number of students registered for the examinations and those who actually sat the examinations exceeded 3,000, with a maximum of 3,804 in 2009. For the same period, the difference in percentages with respect to those who registered (entries) for the examinations but did not sit the examinations ranged between four (4) and six (6) percent, while the difference in percentages between the entries and passes ranged from 38 to 64 percent. Mathematics and Information Technology have registered the largest differences for the five years.
Government’s expenditure on the underwriting of examination fees has increased steadily over the years. Costs of subject fees for entries ranged from $61.2 million in 2004 to $110.3 million in 2009. There was a significant loss when comparisons were made about the cost for entries as opposed to those who actually sat the examinations as, except for 2004, the Government’s loss steadily increased from $3.1 million in 2005 to $5.0 million in 2009. For the corresponding period, the loss to the Government with respect to those students who sat and did not attain the required grades fluctuated between $28.4 million and $42.1 million, with the amount peaking in 2007 at $42.1 million. Simultaneously, Government’s total loss (never sat/sat and failed) sharply increased from 31.5 million in 2005 to 46.1 million in 2007 and subsequently declined to 41.7 million in 2009.
At the same time, costs based on the numbers sitting would have been $57.3 million and $105.3 million for 2004 and 2009 respectively. Payments based on attainment of the required grades would have been $22.1 million in 2004 and $68.6 million in 2009.
The situation is even more alarming where CCSLC is concerned as there is significant waste when Government investment is compared to student participation and the quality of the pass rates. For example, for the two years of participation (2008/2009 and 2009/2010) the Ministry of Education subsidized CCSLC at a cost of approximately $97.9 million. However, a significant 23% of the subject entries were not sat in 2008, increasing to 27% in 2009. This translated to a loss to the Government of $4.7 million and $20.6 million respectively for the two years. Further investigations revealed that the Government suffered additional loss as a large percentage (56% and 61% for 2008 and 2009 respectively) of entries sat failed to attain a passing grade. In this regard the total loss to the Government over the two years was approximately $68.8 million of the approximate $97.9 million contribution to the CCSLC subsidy.
Recognising that there were high levels of inefficiencies in the current arrangements, the Ministry embarked on an internal review, soliciting the participation of stakeholders within the sector. The Ministry of Finance and the Public Service was consulted and supports the proposal as recommended by the Ministry of Education.
A decision was made by the Ministry of Education that the process must become performance-based next year.
It was decided that academic records be kept for all students from Grade 10 and schools would administer qualifying examinations. Most schools already conduct mock examinations and subsidies would therefore be provided based on previously determined averages and students who perform below the average would pay for the examinations.
In addition, students have to demonstrate from Grade 10 that they are ready for the examinations thereby increasing their potential of being successful and reducing the waste of public funds. Besides reducing the level of waste, this arrangement should motivate students to be more focused, heighten interest in their work and motivate them to be more responsible for their own educational attainment.

JIS Social