Letters & Opinion

Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment (CPEA): Government Vindicated

Sylvestre Phillip M.B.E
By Sylvestre Phillip M.B.E

THE 2022 Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment results have now been released, and the results have met my expectations. Indeed, I am really satisfied with the general performance of the students. In particular, I am extremely elated with the performance of the boys in the 2022 examination. And it is only going to get better with time.

Many parents expressed doubts about the introduction of the Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment in 2022 because of the COVID-19 situation which deprived students of instructional time for lengthy periods.

I spoke with a parent at a local supermarket who was very apprehensive about the performance of her daughter who had written the exam. Her concern stemmed from the fact that sufficient time was not spent on the Project component of CPEA. She specifically mentioned that a lot more time was spent on whole group teaching.

Indeed, there wasn’t anything that I could have told her to appease her concerns because I didn’t have any information on the teaching and learning situation of her child.

But one thing is very clear, the results proved that government was correct in using the Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment as the mechanism for placement of students to  Secondary Schools in St. Lucia.

Many schools in the Caribbean, particularly the Eastern Caribbean have been using the CPEA for about nine years now. And the administrators use the assessment for various reasons.

St. Lucia has decided to use that form of assessment for placement of student to Secondary schools, and I have applauded the decision many times.

Now let us take a close look at the CPEA results for 2022. In the past what we knew as the Common Entrance Examination, had brought out the outstanding performance of girls in the top places for several years. And I was convinced that boys can perform much better. The examination has proved it!

The Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment is an authentic assessment. By that I mean it takes into account, the holistic development of the child. By that I mean it takes in account the children who are academic as well as those who are practical and those who have technical skills.

Now let us examine the 2022 CPEA results. The top five places were taken up by boys (Males) with scores ranging from 95.6 to 97.2. That is, out of 100 per cent. In fact 7 boys ranked in the top ten places. There is a tie in the 4th Place with two boys who battled it out, both from the Augier Combined School.

Now there is a good spread of schools in the first ten ranking. Seven schools ranked in the first ten places. In my article in the Open School on CPEA, I predicted 10 schools but I am satisfied with 7.

It should be noted that the Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment produced scores ranging from 22.6% to 97.2%. Very simply, there is at least one student who scored 22.6 out of a hundred and on the examination with at least one scoring 97.2 out of 100 percent. If you add the scores of all the students who wrote the examination and divide the total by the number of children who actually wrote the exam (2032) that calculation would produce a national average or more scientifically, a national mean. This year the National Mean is 70.56%. And this is very good for a start. I am very optimistic that can only get better.

Now the girls (Females) held their own. When we analyse the performance by gender for the various subjects we see them running ‘neck and neck’, just barely edging out the boys. For example, in Mathematics the boys scored an average of 63.57% and the girls 66.66%; in Science, the boys scored an average of 68.8% and the girls 71.41%, in Language, the boys scored on average 72.63% and the girls 78.61%; and in Social Studies, the boys scored on average 68.28% and the girls 72.48%..

Now what has bolstered or strengthened  those scores both for boys and girls. And more so for boys. Let us look at the results of the candidates in the Internal and External components of the examination. The internal component comprised of SBA Mathematics, a mean of 82.53; SBA Science, 84.91; SBA Language, 83.6; SBA Social Studies, 83.98 making an average total component score of 83.4.

As you can see, the candidates did very well in the SBA component. Which means that there was no need for the parent I spoke with at the supermarket to worry so much about her daughter’s SBA performance.

Now in the External component, in Mathematics Multiple Choice, the mean is 54.72; in the Science Multiple Choice, the mean is 84.91; in the Language Multiple Choice, the mean is 68.83; and in the Social Studies Multiple choice, the mean is 62.29 making a total external mean of 61.78.

It is clear that the teachers and students did very well with the School Based Assessment (SBA) component of the CPEA Examination. The teachers will now have to examine the Multiple Choice results and decide on a number of strategies to improve Multiple Choice results.

Indeed, it apt to look at the performance of students in the Common Entrance in 2019, 2020, 2021 against their performance in 2022.

In Language 2019, 60.81; in Mathematics, 55.1; in General Paper 64.45. In 2020, Language, 66.17; in Mathematics, 63.87; in General Paper, 62.75. In 2021, in Language, 61.72; in Mathematics, 63.28; in General Paper, 60.52.

Indeed, for Caribbean Primary Assessment (CPEA) in 2022, Language 75.69; in Mathematics, 65.15; in Science, 71.13; and in Social Studies 70.73

The scores are very clear that the performance of students in the CPEA was very much better in all subject areas compared to the former Common Entrance Examination.

Many years ago when I did my degree in education a lot of discussion was initiated in class on the importance of an authentic assessment model for St. Lucia, and, indeed, everywhere children are learning.

May God bless the Ministry of Education for embracing the Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment?

Goodbye Common Entrance. Thank you for your service to the children of St. Lucia. Welcome CPEA.

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