Call for action

subject awards committee concerned about quality of work produced in csec maths exam

The performance in the May/June 2012 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate Mathematics examination has resulted in a call for action in the region to address deficiencies in the subject.

This year, 33 per cent of the entries for Mathematics achieved Grades I to III, which are the acceptable grades at CSEC. This is a further decline in performance when compared with the last two years. In 2011, 35 per cent earned similar grades and in 2010 the figure stood at 41 per cent.

Reporting on the performance of the subject to the Final Awards Committee, the Subject Awards Committee (SAC) said it was “deeply concerned about the quality of work produced by candidates at this level.”

“Topics such as the range, perimeter, and profit and loss that should be covered at the lower secondary level were not fully understood,” the SAC reported.

On one question which tested perimeter and area, 36 per cent of the candidates scored no marks. Similarly, on a question which tested algebra, 33 per cent of the candidates scored zero.

The SAC has called on the region to address the issue of teaching and performance in Mathematics by re-organising its Mathematics programme, supporting teacher training and facilitating access to instructional resources.

Dr. Didacus Jules, Registrar of CXC outlined some measures CXC is implementing to address the issue:

* The establishment of an expert working group to recommend comprehensive changes in the teaching, learning and assessment of Mathematics

Encouraging Participating Countries to use CCSLC Mathematics as a foundation programme for developing the competencies for mastery of Mathematics.

* Providing teacher training in more effective syllabus delivery and SBA management,

* Strengthening of the Mathematics content on its free interactive online portal

* Providing study guides in core subject areas in CSEC and CAPE including Mathematics, published in collaboration with Nelson Thornes.


For the third consecutive year, overall performance in the May/June examination has declined. This year 62 per cent of the candidate entries achieved Grades I – III, the acceptable grades; this compared with 66 per cent in 2011 and 69 per cent in 2010.

Of the 62 per cent achieving acceptable grades, 11.30 gained Grade I, 22.39 gained Grade II and 28.46 per cent gained Grade III.

Thirty-five subjects were offered for the May/June examination this year: performance improved on nine subjects, declined on 19, remained the same on six and one new subject, Additional Mathematics was offered for the first time. Fifty-eight per cent of the entries for Additional Mathematics achieved acceptable grades.

The most improved performances were seen on Electrical and Electronic Technology and Mechanical Engineering Technology. This year 65 per cent of entries for Electrical and Electronic Technology achieved acceptable grades, this compares very favourably with the 44 per cent which achieved the same grades in 2011, representing a 21 per cent improvement. For Mechanical Engineering Technology, there was a 13 per cent improvement, with 69 per cent achieving Grades I to III compared with 56 per cent last year.

There was a six per cent improvement in performance on Integrated Science, with 80 per cent of entries achieving acceptable grades compared with 74 per cent in 2011.

Clothing and Textiles also registered improved performance this year. Eighty-six per cent of entries achieved acceptable grades this year compared with 81 per cent last year.

Forty per cent of the entries for Information Technology achieved Grade I and 31.42 per cent achieved Grade II. This combined for an overall improved performance this year when compared with 2011. Overall, 83 per cent of the entries gained acceptable grades compared with 79 per cent last year.

Electronic Document Preparation and Management and Theatre Arts both saw a three per cent improvement in performance. On the case of EDPM it went from 85 per cent last year to 88 per cent this year, while Theatre Arts, performance improved from 87 per cent in 2011 to 91 per cent this year.

Both Principles of Business and Physics registered a two per cent improvement in performance. For Principles of Business, performance improved from 78 per cent in 2011 to 80 per cent this year; while for Physics, performance improved from 74 per cent in 2011 to 76 per cent this year. Twenty per cent of the entries for Physics achieved Grade I.

Physics was the only natural science subject with improved performance this year. While performance on Biology was satisfactory at 70 per cent, it was below that of last year which was 73 per cent.

In the case of Chemistry, 58 per cent of entries achieved acceptable grades compared with 64 per cent in 2011. The majority of the acceptable grades were at the lower levels – 28 per cent at Grade III and 17 per cent at Grade II.

Physical Education and Sport was the best performing subject overall, with 97 per cent of the entries achieving acceptable grades, the same level of performance as in 2011 and 2010. Forty-seven per cent of entries for PES achieved Grade I.


After an upward trend for the last three years, performance on English A has declined significantly this year. Forty-seven per cent of the entries for English A achieved Grades I to III this year compared with 67 per cent in 2011, representing a 20 per cent decline.

This year was the first examination since the revised syllabus took effect. The Subject Awards Committee attributed the decline to less than satisfactory performance on Paper 02, the Essay Paper. The SAC noted that this decline was most obvious in the summary and comprehension questions.

The SAC has suggested that teaching of the language must enable students to move away from prescribed and rehearsed answers seen in some questions, to the point where they can effectively and appropriately use rhetorical devices that enrich expression and facilitate comprehension.

On English B, performance also declined when compared with 2011, but not as dramatic as on English A. This year, 68 per cent of entries achieved acceptable grades, compared with 71 per cent in 2011.

This was the first year the revised syllabus was being examined. The Subject Awards Committee reported that candidates’ performance fell down mainly on the Poetry Profile, and this decline affected the overall performance of the subject. Performance on the other two Profiles, Drama and Prose Fiction remained relatively stable.


Both candidate entries and subject entries continue to grow, with both registering just over a two per cent increase. One hundred and fifty-six thousand, nine hundred and sixty-eight candidates registered for CSEC examinations this year, compared with 153, 120 candidates in 2011, an increase of 3, 848 candidates.

The adult population, 19 years and older represents more than one third of the candidate population, with 35 per cent of candidates in that age group.

This year, 637, 510 subject entries were submitted for the 35 subjects offered. This is 16, 415 more than those submitted in 2011. For the second consecutive year, Mathematics has overtaken English A as the subject with the largest entries – 105, 872. English A has 101, 032; Social Studies is third with 55, 896; Principles of Business fourth with 38, 461 and Human and Social Biology fifth with 35, 100 entries.

Physical Education and Sport was the subject with the largest subject entry percentage increase. This year 8, 474 entries were submitted, compared with 7, 040 in 2011- an increase of 20 per cent.

Human and Social Biology and Mathematics also recorded appreciable increases. HSB had 35, 100 entries this year compared with 33, 400 in 2011, or five per cent increase; while Mathematics moved from 101, 268 entries in 2011 to 105, 872 entries this year or a four per cent increase.

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