As the 2012 Junior Certificate Examinations(JCE) results take centre stage in public discussions, Botswana Examinations Council (BEC) this week moved swiftly to explain the revised curriculum.
In a communiqué released on Tuesday, BEC explained that the 2012 examinations were the beginning of a new grading system that is done through a ‘Standards-Based’ grading procedure as opposed to the ‘Norm-Referenced’ one that has been used in previous examinations.
According to BEC, the new system better evaluates student’s performance and provides year- to-year comparisons of national performance patterns
“The Norm-Referenced grading procedure focuses on rating a student’s performance relative to that of others in the same cohort, while the Standards-Based grading procedure shows the extent to which the candidates achieved specified outcomes of learning.
This allows for detailed reporting on actual capabilities of candidates since their performance is judged against defined standards.
Such reports provide information that is critical for informing the education system, policy and school improvement initiatives,” the release reads in part.
BEC further explained that candidates were graded on seven subjects instead of the nine used in previous examinations.
“These include English, Setswana, Mathematics, Science, one optional subject and the best two from the remaining subjects.
Candidates with Setswana exemption were graded on seven subjects including English, Mathematics, Science, one optional subject and the best three from the remaining subjects.”
The new system has seen a significant drop in the pass rate with 40.7% of students attaining grades C, much lower than the 74.7% that was realized in the 2011 examinations, but BEC have allayed fears that this translated into a weaker performance.
“This should not be taken to mean that the 2012 cohort was weaker.
The discrepancies in the results reflect the effect of a grading procedure that is more focused on knowledge and skills actually attained by the students,” they explained.
They further clarified that the revised grading system was classified as A, B, C, D, E and U and that it differed with the previous system that did not have E and U.