The Ministry of Education is defending the placement of students in public and private secondary schools following the results of the 2019 Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exam as officials yesterday demonstrated the transparent process used to assign persons.
Pedro Enrique Loyo Diaz
Dismissing a report by pollster Dr Nigel Henry over the weekend—which raised questions regarding the assignment of students to secondary schools—a team from the Ministry of Education provided a rare look into how the scores are calculated and the placement process is carried out.
Chief Education Officer, Harrilal Seecharan said: “The data presented by the author, Dr Nigel Henry is totally erroneous and many of the assertions made in the article are fundamentally flawed.” He denied any attempt was made either by the author or publisher (not this newspaper) to verify the information that appeared in the public domain.
Pedro Loyo Diaz
Claiming this was a violation of basic journalistic principles, Seecharan outlined the criteria used to determine how and where students are assigned
He said: “SEA placement is controlled by a module which has been developed by CXC. It is located at CXC and that module actually performs all the calculations whether it is students’ scores or numbers during the placement exercise.”
“Persons within the local placement team basically have no control of, or the ability to make any changes.”
Seecharan assured: “The information provided by the ministry would be in terms of the number of spaces available in schools which is input at the level of CXC and then the calculation is carried out.”
The SEA placement criteria are based on merit (score students’ obtain in the exam); parental choice; the principal’s 20 per cent selection; gender; residence; and multiple births
In the case of twins/triplets, Seecharan said: “We have had this policy in place for a number of years where when we are treating with multiple births…once one child gets a score which takes them into a particular school, the other side is automatically placed in so in those instances, you may find one of the students may end up with a lower score.”
Assistant Director, Division of Educational Research and Education, Kamini Bhagaloo endorsed CXC’s role in the placement exercise as she said: “CXC manages and controls the placement process. As such, placement is conducted remotely via a team within the MOE.”
She added: “CXC conducts all the calculations and they calibrate the system in terms of the intake for each school.”
Carrying out a simulation exercise during which she presented exactly how CXC would determine placement, Bhagaloo said: “There is no predetermined way of filling the schools. What impacts on the filling of the schools would be the students’ choices.”
Seecharan reiterated, “The order of placing students in schools is based on their scores and choices.”
“In a government-school, since we place 100 per cent, the last student based on merit who selected the school…that score is the minimum score required to get in.” He said the lone exception would be in the case of multiple births
Regarding the 20 per cent placement of students at denominational secondary schools, Seecharan said: “Those are things within the jurisdiction of the principals. The 20 per cent is intended to maintain the religious flavour of the school and therefore in a lot of instances, students would be selected based on their affiliation with the particular denominational board, whether that is done through parents approaching the principals.”