The marking scheme and grading system used for the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) does not favour any candidate, the West African Examination Council (WAEC) has clarified.
The head of WAEC National Office, Mrs Wendy Addy-Lamptey, said that it was the same scheme and system that were used in assessing the performance of students always, irrespective of their schools.
“A final marking scheme is developed for each subject at the end of the preliminary coordination meeting and all examiners use this final marking scheme to mark scripts of all candidates for that subject,” she said.
Mrs Addy-Lamptey was speaking at a forum held in Accra yesterday to explain the fundamentals of the BECE grading system used for selection and certification to its stakeholders, in the education sector.
The forum attended by stakeholders, including heads of schools, directors of education, was organised to clarify concerns raised by stakeholders about discrimination and unfairness in the grading system being used by the WAEC.
“Such untrue statements about marking schemes and grading mislead members of the public and create unnecessary anxiety amongst school authorities, candidates and their parents,” Mrs Addy-Lamptey said.
She expressed the hope that the forum would bring clarity to the grading system and help stakeholders appreciate the performance of candidates much better.
In a presentation on the grading system, a former WAEC Officer in charge of Test Examination, Measurement and Evaluation, Mr Felix Akuffo-Badoo, said the ‘Stanine’ grading system being used for examination is the short form for Standard nine.
He said it was introduced by the United States Army and Airforce in 1942 and in the early years of the educational reforms, the system was found out to be the best that could be used for both certification and selection.
Under the nine-unit scale ranging from one to nine, Mr Akuffo-Badoo said, average performance was five, highest performance nine and lowest performance, one and that fixed percentages are used in determining the grades.
He explained the candidates whose marks fell within the top four per cent of the cohort for any subject obtain Grade 1 in that subject; those in the next seven per cent obtain Grade 2 and those in the next one per cent obtain Grade 3 and in that order.
Mr Akuffo-Badoo said the system ranks and compares students in relation to each other with advantages, including easy computing, no human intervention and financial implications, quick understanding of test scores, while it was good for deletion from large groups.
However, he said, the system could not be used to compare results across years nor reward teachers for improved performance and thus called for adoption of a system that would reflect variants in the yearly performances.
Mr Akuffo-Badoo called on stakeholders in education to revisit recommendations by various education review committees on the grading system as well as train teachers on the grading system.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR