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Only one new CAC aspect would be required in 2013 SEA

By Sasha Harrinanan Tuesday, November 27 2012

The Ministry of Education has assured parents of students writing the 2013 Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exam that Creative Writing is the only aspect of the new Continuous Assessment Component (CAC) actually being taught to Standard Five students, this academic year.

Acting Chief Education Officer, Harrilall Seecharan, yesterday said this was one of several adjustments made to CAC following consultations with stakeholders.

“Creative Writing in Standard Five will contribute to 20 percent of the marks of the SEA in 2013. Whilst introduced in the other areas are the visual and performing arts, physical education, character and citizenship, as a pilot in Standard Four. Teachers and students would have an opportunity to interface with the methods and procedures that are being introduced.. However, no scores from Standard Four would go towards the SEA,” Seecharan assured.

At the time he was speaking during a press conference at the ministry’s head office on Hayes Street, St Clair, Port-of-Spain.

Acting Curriculum Director, Gaynelle Holdip, explained once the current batch of Standard Four students have completed their CAC course work, “a comprehensive report would be done and this would form the basis of the ministry’s decision on which grouping of subjects would form the basis of CAC marks” for students writing SEA in 2014.

Holdip told reporters more than “$15 million had been spent on the CAC programme” to date and another $15 million or so, was likely to be spent in the coming months because the Education Ministry wanted to ensure every student at all 557 primary schools, had the necessary materials, study aides, equipment and facilities, as well as outside monitors, to ensure CAC was administered fairly and accurately across the country.

Resources were fully in place for the needs of Standard Five students, teachers, and administrators. The ministry he said, has spent more than $15 million to date, and was likely to spend a similar amount, ensuring all 557 primary schools have the necessary materials, equipment and training in place.

Meanwhile, Seecharan took the opportunity during the press conference “to correct some misinformation” he noted in a daily newspaper yesterday. The report read that CAC wasn’t being implemented until September, 2014, because teachers and principals were neither properly trained, nor informed about the programme.

“I want to state quite categorically that Creative Writing in Standard Five is still being pursued. We have not taken it off the agenda and in fact, that process is quite advanced.”

When the Education Ministry first announced CAC would be implemented this past September, some parents expressed concern about the sudden change in a curriculum geared toward the SEA exam. Some parents said it was unfair to put pressure on Standard Five children to learn musical instruments et cetera, but as indicated earlier, the Education Ministry has decided Creative Writing would be the only aspect of CAC which current Standard Five students would have to complete.

Seecharan argued that students would “be able to enjoy school again” because their teachers would no longer have to train them for a “one-shot exam”.

Instead, students would have the opportunity to write drafts of their essays, get feedback from their teachers, then write the final version. The grades obtained on several essays, written over the course of the academic year, would equal 20 percent of each student’s final SEA score. The other 80 percent of their final SEA score would come from the English Language Arts, and Math exams written on the actual exam day.

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