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posted 14 Mar 2013, 21:24 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 14 Mar 2013, 21:27 ]
TTUTA again expresses its dismay at the rushed, reckless implementation of the ill-planned Continuous Assessment Component (CAC) of the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA), even as all students in Standard 5 did the Final Assessment in Creative Writing today March 14, 2013 in over five hundred (500) primary schools throughout the country. 
TTUTA has repeatedly in the past pointed out the problems afflicting the CAC to the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the national community. Our continued calls for the MOE to revisit its approach and, in particular, its timetable for implementation have fallen on deaf ears and the Association again warns that, in its present format, the Programme is certain to fail. 
Since September 2012, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has been trying to impose a Programme, involving an element of the CAC for Standard 5 students in Creative Writing, which would contribute 20% towards their final SEA Examination mark in 2013. This 20% is to be made up of the best five (5) essays in the students’ portfolios since September along with the Final Assessment held today. The CAC project also involves the introduction of trial components in other subject areas for Standards 3 and 4. 

TTUTA has warned that: 
1. The ‘crash’ training programmes run by the MOE to prepare teachers to deliver and examine students in the subject areas were inadequate, ill-conceived and superficial. Teachers who attended those sessions reported that the training failed to properly prepare them for the duties that they are required to perform; 
2. The instructions and procedures given for implementation were garbled, inconsistent and confusing. Different Districts were given different timelines for the completion of certain projects and even within Districts the timelines differed. These timelines for the submission of data changed almost on a daily basis, shortening the deadlines reducing effectiveness and placing greater stress on teachers to complete tasks within compressed periods; 
3. Materials and resources for the delivery of the different subject areas were sparse and hard to come by. Even in cases where these were supplied they were inadequate for proper teaching and assessing and there was no proper secure storage for these materials/resources. Simple requirements like notebooks for the students’ essays were not available or were received very late by some schools. Many teachers had to use their own resources to meet the needs of the curriculum; 

4. Schools were required to supply information including registration data to the MOE by email and on-line without the wide spread provision of proper computer facilities. A significant number of primary schools have no computers at all and/or no Internet access. Principals and teachers were forced to rely on their individual, private resources, where available, or on the scanty facilities available at the District Offices of the MOE. This resulted in inaccurate registration information being supplied to the MOE.

The consequence was that the registration documents contained inaccurate information, requiring correction and leading to more confusion; 
5. There was little or no secure storage at the schools for vital information, including student portfolios, projects, personal information, and marks. The validity and confidentiality of the information is open to question owing to this lack of secure storage and the ease of access by a variety of persons. This is critically important given that the SEA is a national ‘high-stakes’ examination; 
6. The MOE has paid only lip-service to the fundamental issues of reliability, validity and standardization of these internal assessment components over the five hundred plus primary schools throughout the country. CAC ‘Monitors’ are being sent in patchy fashion to the schools but these persons have not been adequately trained nor have their roles in moderating the marking or their limits of authority been clarified. Even the standardized rubric for the marking of essays in Creative Writing has been changed over the period so that essays are being marked by different standards over the period and across schools. 
Schools throughout the country are not on a ‘level playing field’, given the vast disparity in the available teaching resources for the different subject areas. In such a situation and given the ad hoc, extempore approach to planning, procedures and implementation, the CAC will not be meaningful or fair to all the nation’s children. It will simply become another stressful hurdle to be overcome in a high-stakes, competitive examination process and will reinforce the ‘over-testing’ culture that has gripped our primary schools. 
The CAC in its present form is a FARCE. Yet, the MOE seems intent on proceeding ‘come hell or high water’ with it. This mad rush would not lead to improved quality education but would only perpetuate inequity among students across the country. Parents and the entire national community must reject this cavalier approach towards the education of their children. 

TTUTA again calls for proper, meaningful consultation with TTUTA, other stakeholders and the entire national community on such fundamental changes in education policy. The implementation of the CAC of the SEA must be postponed until a comprehensive, well-designed programme is developed and all the prerequisites are put in place. The children of Trinidad and Tobago deserve no less.
Peter Wilson
General Secretary
March 14, 2013
Gerry Kangalee,
14 Mar 2013, 21:25