CAPE and Electronic Marking
Editor: My Literatures in English students at the DASGS division of SVGCC are approaching this year’s exams with a heightened sense of trepidation predicated on the shared experiences of peers who wrote literature last year. Their grades were not reflective of the level of work they put in and some of this year’s students have already adopted the fatalistic attitude of Charles Dickens’ character Louisa in Hard Times: “What does it Matter?” Now I am tasked with the mammoth challenge of motivating those students to still do their best.
For those who might not be aware, CAPE has transitioned to electronic marking. According to their December 2015 report, “E-marking facilitates the assignment of electronic scripts to examiners and the marking of these scripts in an online environment instead of relocating to a physical location.”
Now I am quite cognizant of the fact that average students can perform above average and top students can perform below average on a given exam due to any number of counteractive factors in an examination environment. However, it is extremely troubling to any educator when a top student returns failing grades without a justifiable reason.
In my specific case, one student in particular who scored a grade 2 for literature in 2017 received a grade 5 in 2018. Incidentally she has a grade 1 in Communication Studies and that counts for something if one is to assess her language skills. In diagnosing her examination experience, she concluded that she did not perform better in 2017 because she did not complete her essays. She queried her 2018 results in an official capacity by paying the required Bds$60.00 and sending along her information to the examining body only to receive word through the Registrar’s office at the college indicating that there was an “Administrative Review” (whatever that means). Afterwards, she received her official certificate which reflected the exact grades on the initial results slip; nothing else by way of explanation.
Now that we have established perspective, my concern is how does a student move from a grade 2 to a grade 5? What criteria must examiners meet to mark CAPE literature online? Are the examiners familiar with the 10 prescribed texts for Unit 1 and the 9 prescribed texts for Unit 2, given that countries and institutions within the territory do not all use the same texts? How reliable is the online marking system? How thorough are the examiners? Who monitors the markers? When a student pays to query her results officially, what is the procedure to reexamine her work? These are nagging questions and I have reached out to a CAPE contact November of 2018 and received a response in January of 2019 which states, “I have forwarded your email to my colleague who is better positioned to provide a response. As soon as I am in receipt of any information I will share it with you.” I am still waiting.
I am in no way asking for preferential treatment for my students. All I am requesting is that their work be given due attention and consideration. If CAPE examiners are going to sentence my students to “failing” grades which will jeopardize their academic future and often the direction of their very lives, then at least allow them a fair trial and appeal by presenting the evidence of their failure so all stakeholders can rest their case, satisfied.