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Parents’ views mixed on new SEA format
The consensus was “easy,” as more than 18,000 pupils across T&T completed the creative writing component of the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) yesterday. T&T Guardian visited Port-of-Spain schools yesterday to get comments from pupils and parents on how the exam went and whether the modified format was better than the traditional one-day examination which featured all three components—creative writing, mathematics and language arts.
Kadeem Baptiste, a 12-year-old pupil of Richmond Street Boys’ happily said, “Good,” when asked how the exam was for him. His two friends shared a similar view. Many from Trinity Junior School, Richmond Street Boys’ and Sacred Heart Girls’ RC came out of the hour and a half exam smiling; some even saying the exam was easy. Of the three choices offered to the students, the popular choice appeared to be number one from the informal survey done by the T&T Guardian.
Many parents, who waited outside of the various schools for their children to complete the exam, felt the ministry’s idea to have different components of the exam done at different times is a good idea. Elizabeth Thomas whose 11-year-old daughter attends Sacred Heart Girls’ RC School said: “Yes, it is a good idea having it before.” Thomas said that while her daughter was prepared for yesterday’s exam, she would not be satisfied until the results are given.
Similarly, a parent whose 11-year-old daughter wrote the exam and attends Trinity Junior School, said dividing the exam into two separate parts did not matter, since “it had to come anyway.” But she agreed that the examination’s new format gives the student more time to study and more time to focus on mathematics and grammar. Stephen Walters, however, whose niece Angel wrote the exam yesterday, does not agree with the new format.
He said it places greater stress on the pupils. Walters said additional anxiety and frustration are placed on the children who after completing the creative writing component must now study for the math and grammar. Suzanne Sheppard, whose 13-year-old daughter, Mingxia Lambkin, wrote the exam yesterday, said she believes this format places unnecessary stress on the pupils since it appears like “a second SEA exam.”
She said it is not something she agrees with and prefers if the exam was done as one. An official of the Ministry of Education said yesterday’s exam took place without incident.
The official said: “All districts reported that the exam was smooth and without incident.” The creative writing component contributes 20 per cent to the students overall SEA result, ten per cent of which is derived from the exam and the rest from a portfolio of coursework. This new format is part of the ministry’s move toward continuous assessment. The language arts and mathematics components of the SEA exam are to be written on Thursday, May 9.
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