Former Chief Education Officer Elroy Turnbull believes the decision made by Education Minister Dr Natalio Wheatley to lower the secondary schools’ Exit Proficiency Exam pass mark was a ‘mistake’.
Turnbull made the assertion on Tuesday during the Honestly Speaking with Claude Skelton Cline radio programme.
According to Wheatley, his research has shown many flaws in the exit exam. But Turnbull argues that the exam should have been completely removed if it was found to be flawed.
“Having said those things, I think the exam in terms of the general principals in which those exams were set and assessed was null and void. It was not reliable. It was not valid and it was a fraud. You cannot have those kids, as well as the teachers, believe the exam is going to test on what they did and then you come with something that has no relevance to what was taught” Turnbull argued.
He further said: “He (the minister) should have just cancelled it, make it null and void and leave the grading system that the school had. He didn’t have to go and lower anything. The school’s pass mark was 50, this exam was 60 and he lowered it from 60 to 50.”
Other options available
The retired educator believes another route could have been taken to help resolve the issue surrounding the mandatory final exam.
“If you want to supplement that, you could ask the principal or somebody to come up with something else. Maybe something needs to get more weighted because this exam accounted for 15 percent of the total school leaving process. So if you got rid of this thing you could’ve found something to substitute that would give you 15 percent,” Turnbull stated.
“Then again, what disturbs me is: Why are you having this thing as a compulsory exam that people have to take? The compulsory exams traditionally are Mathematics and Language Arts because they are the fundamentals so I don’t understand it. It baffles me,” Turnbull said.
Education review needed
Turnbull also said he believes there is a need for an education review, which would look at the education system in the past and present then plans for the future.
He said this move is necessary because he believes “that education today, unfortunately, has been marginalized and compromised”.
“This education review will be commissioned by government, whether the Ministry of Education or the Premier’s Office. Traditionally they (the board members that sit on these review panels) have involved a few local educators, people from society. We’ve had experts from away and former professors of the University of the West Indies and other institutions. So you try to get a broad as possible committee that would reflect diverse views and experiences.”
Last month the Education Minister Dr Wheatley said the decision to lower the Exit Proficiency Exam is to protect the interests of students in the long-term.
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