Last year’s KCSE exam results rekindle 2015 memories

Monday, January 23rd, 2023 06:30 | By
Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu. PHOTO/Courtesy
Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu. PHOTO/Courtesy

The 2022 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exam results have stoked fresh debate about the integrity of this national test six years after government reforms of the national examinations council (KNEC).

The so-called ‘Matiang’i reforms’ were sought to cure the integrity deficiency of national exams after the 2015 tests’ debacle that saw exam materials extensively leaked and sold on the streets.

A highlight of the results released last Friday stoked all the public rage and rekindled the 2015 memories of the high recurrence of the A grade in some ‘unknown’ schools, and ‘abnormal’ performance curves for others.

On the flipside, like in the past KCSE results the D grade remained almost constant and significantly dominant in county and sub-county schools. A total of 456,081 candidates or 55.8 per cent of tested candidates posted this pre-trade test grade.

Some 214,222 (reflecting 24.3 per cent) who sat for KCSE scored the C grade (C pain and minus), according to statistics and qualified to join middle-level colleges for certificate and diploma courses.

Perhaps aware of the debate the result would stoke, Machogu was quick to defend the exam’s integrity declaring during the announcement that there were no irregularities.  He underscored the success of austerity measures laid by the ministry to deal with exam cheats and fraudsters. Yet this did not stop the storm with an eye on scrutiny of results for the 173, 345 learners expected to transit to university should the C+ entry cut-off be retained.

Performance curve

Civil rights activist Anthony Mutevani says the ministry owes Kenyans an explanation on the sudden rise of students with As long after the exit of Prof George Magoha from the helm of KNEC. “Are the exams compromised or are our women giving birth to relatively brighter children than before?” he posed and went on, “I find the occurrence of the A-grades and corridors where they’re produced interesting,” he charged.”

He said KCSE exams released in the past three years have attempted to demystify the myth of As, making them ordinary like before the 2016 Matiang’i education reforms.

Mutevani says results for some schools do not ascribe to the normal performance curve noting that the apex appears bigger than the base whereas the “tail” is missing.

A total of 1,146 candidates among them 271 females scored a mean of A plain last year indicative of about 0.13 per cent compared to 1,138 candidates with the same grade in 2021 KCSE.  The A (minus) grade also increased from 5,973 in 2021 to 6,407. Compared to the 2016 KCSE exams, which was a culmination of a radical surgery and reforms at KNEC that brought in Prof Magoha, only 141 students or just 0.02 per cent of the 571,161 candidates tested scored As.

Kenya national union of teachers’ secretary general Collins Oyuu said integrity queries against the exam were unfounded. “I find nothing strange with a student at Nyambaria School whose KCPE entry was 403 marks scoring A grade at KCSE,” he said.

Oyuu, however, sought leave when asked to explain the paradigm shift of the KCSE A grade from 141 in 2016 and the current 1,146 figure.

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