As we approach the end of the second week of the new academic year 2013-14, it is clear that there are many parents who are still uncertain what Continuous Assessment changes have been made at the Primary School level, and how these changes will affect their children.
I have received numerous inquiries, and have seen what some schools have presented to the parents in the SEA classes (Std 4 and 5).
In the interest of transparency and open communication, I have compiled these here, attempting to answer as many questions as possible.
Please note that I have not been able to independently confirm with the Ministry of Education, and so have only included what seems to be widely accepted and communicated by multiple schools.
This post will be updated accordingly should there be any changes or clarifications, particularly when confirmation of the CAC weightings is received. I have focused mainly on the SEA classes, as I have not yet seen much advising on the introduction of CAC to the lower primary school classes.
Continuous Assessment was introduced in the 2012-2013 academic year for Primary Schools. Only one continously assessed subject contributed to the final marks for the 2013 SEA Exam: Writing.
Writing contributed 20% of the overal SEA mark, while the traditional Math and Language exam contributed 80%.
As part of their classwork, students maintained a portfolio (notebook) of their best pieces.
These pieces were assessed/marked by their class teachers. Independent monitors, trained by the Ministry, were assigned to each school to review the portfolios and help ensure marks assigned were in accordance with the Ministry’s standards.
A separate Writing exam at SEA was established. Instead of the traditional Math/English/Writing SEA exam combination, there was now a Writing exam on one day, and a Math/English exam on another day. The Writing exam was therefore the final assessment, which followed the 2 terms worth of classroom writing and assessment. This final assessment was marked by independent examiners at CXC. As a result of there being a dedicated Writing exam, students did not have to rush, and extra time was allotted, affording the children sufficient time to plan, draft, revise and “publish” their work.
When reviewing a student’s writing scores, any notable disparity between the grades assigned by independent examiners and the grades assigned by class teachers could result in a recall of a school’s entire batch of portfolios for independent review.
This measure was introduced to reduce the likelihood of cheating and to discourage teachers from giving every student full marks, whether or not they had developed the required profiency in the subject area.
Students appeared to embrace the concept of the “plan, draft, edit, publish” writing process. Some teachers reported that repeated revision of pieces to ensure each child’s best standard was reflected in their portfolio did take a a toll on students, but that the children gained a sense of confidence in their abilities as the terms progressed.
The process was reportedly overwhelming for teachers with larger class sizes and there are reports that some schools sent portfolios home for students to complete their classwork there. In this way, the reports maintain, some parents were able to unfairly assist their children by producing the content for them. It is unknown how isolated or widespread this phenomenon was.
Overall the majority of the feedback from students and teachers was positive, although some administrative and communication gaps were identified to be strengthened in the next phase of CAC implementation.
CAC Implementation for SEA 2014 and 2015
On August 29th 2013, the Ministry met with primary school principals and announced the following changes relating to the role of CAC in SEA 2014 and 2015.
In brief, the contribution of Writing to the final SEA mark has been reduced from 20% to 10%, and 7 new subjects will begin to be continuously assessed in academic year 2013-14. Four of these subjects will be taught and assessed in the Std 4 year, and three in the Std 5 year. It is expected this structure will remain from 2013-14 onward. It does not appear that any of the new subjects will individually contribute more than 5% to the final SEA score, but further clarification is required on this.
Standard 5 – SEA 2014
- No final Writing Assessment
- Writing will contribute 10% of the final SEA mark 2014
- Science, Character and Citizen Education, and Drama (combined) will contribute a further 10% of the final SEA mark 2014
What it means
No final Writing Assessment
The final Writing exam which was traditionally part of the SEA exam, and which was isolated on a separate day in 2013, has been complely eliminated.
Author’s Note: It wil be interesting to see the reaction to this. While some felt that exams on 2 days was too much of a stress on the students, others felt that the ability to concentrate only on this subject and to have additional time in which to do so was a positive move. Additionally, many felt a sense of comfort in having an independent review by trusted examiners.
Writing to contribute 10% of final SEA mark
Writing will have less of an impact on the final calculation of SEA marks, having been reduced from 20% to 10%. This is presumably to accomodate inclusion of scores from the newly introduced CAC subjects.
Three new CAC subjects introduced
The three additional subjects of Science, Character and Citizen Education (CCE), and Drama – combined – will contribute 10% of the final SEA mark in 2014, which will be added to the 10% from Writing and 80% from Math and Language.
The exact weighting of each of these individual subjects is unclear at this point, however it is highly unlikely any one of them will be contribute more than 5% toward SEA.
Standard 4 2014 – SEA 2015
CAC will contribue 30% toward the final SEA mark (2015), as follows:
To be assessed in Std 4
- (ELA) Expository Writing – 5%
- Music – % TBA
- Agicultural Science – % TBA
- Visual Arts – % TBA
- Physical Education – % TBA
To be assessed in Std 5
- (ELA) Narrative-Descriptive Writing – 5%
- Character and Citizen Education (CCE) – % TBA
- Science – % TBA
- Drama – % TBA
What it means
7 new subjects assessed over 2 years
There will be 7 new subjects introduced and assessed over the 2yrs leading up to SEA. (This does not include English Language Assessment or ELA, which is broken into 2 parts – Expository and Narrative-Descriptive Writing. These are not technically new as Writing as CAC was introduced in 2013).
Of these seven new CAC subjects, four will be taught and assessed while the students are in Standard 4. Three will be taught and assessed while the students are in Standard 5.
Contribution of each subject toward SEA mark
It does not appear that any individual subject will be weighted at more than 5%.
While we are clear that 10% of the final SEA mark will come from Writing, and 20% from other Continually Assessed subjects, the breakdown of that 20% is still uncertain.
Compilation of CAC marks
Throughout the year, schools will input student scores for ELA, Music, Agri Science, Visual Arts and PE for their Standard 4 students into the centralized online database at the Ministry of Education.
When the students advance to Standard 5, schools will input their scores for CCE, Science and Drama into the online database.
There will be no final assessment for any of these subjects. The sole exam will be the Math/English SEA exam in May 2015.
Students Repeating SEA/ International Transfers
There is some uncertainty as to how repeating or transfer students – who will not have completed the Standard 4 CAC work – will be marked for SEA. There has been some indication from the Ministry of Education that the Standard 4 CAC coursework will be overlooked but teachers indicate that discussions and agreements as to the fair and equitable treatment of all are yet to be finalized.
Comments and Clarification
I intend to keep this post as updated and accurate as possible. If you note any inaccuracies, please leave me a comment below or send me a message on the Contact Me page.
*** UPDATE Fri Sep 13, 2013 – This post has been edited for clarity but not for content. ***
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Outspoken, a mother of 3 and a bit of a creative nerd. Nicole is passionate about family and social good, and blogs from Trinidad & Tobago. Download her mobile app
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