October 1, 2023

It’s time to pay teachers

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TTUTA From Trinidad and Tobago NEWSDAY

THE CARIBBEAN Examinations Council (CXC) pays for the services of teachers, specifically for marking of its exams. Each year, teachers across the Caribbean are hired as examiners whose duties are to mark examination scripts of the January and May/June examinations and, in the case of modern languages, to conduct and mark oral examinations.

CXC also recruits and pays a smaller cadre of teachers to moderate (which is a marking and quality control function) School Based Assessments (SBAs) in various subjects.

CXC and the Ministry of Education, however, curiously believe that just one aspect of the examination marking process is exempt from the arrangement that prevails in all the other aspects outlined above.

For the ministry and the CXC, teachers should not be paid to mark the SBAs, which are a component of CXC’s Caribbean Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE) assessments. This inconsistency is what the Trinidad and Tobago Teachers’ Association is no longer prepared to endure.

The teachers who receive payment for marking work done for CXC have a private arrangement with CXC, and those teachers mark examinations on their personal time. Marking the examinations of CXC candidates falls squarely outside the responsibilities of teachers.

Except for SBAs, no teacher is forced by the ministry to mark exams on behalf of the examination body (CXC). The ministry does not sub-contract its teachers to do CXC’s work – except, it seems, when it comes to SBAs. The ministry knows that:

1. It is a client of CXC; it pays CXC to mark candidates’ examinations; CXC does not pay the ministry to mark candidates’ exams.

2. Teachers are employed by the ministry, not CXC, so teachers have no duty to do CXC’s work on their employer’s time.

3. Despite its name, the SBA is part of an external exam. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines external examination as “an examination prepared by someone outside the faculty of the school where the examination is given (as by a testing bureau).” At school, teachers are required to prepare students for external exams; teachers should not be required to mark external exams. That is the examiner’s (ie CXC’s) responsibility.

TTUTA knows that the ministry knows these things because of how it conducts the marking of other external examinations. Two examples are instructive.

First, teachers who choose to mark Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) are paid privately and separately to do so. No teacher is required as part of his or her regular duties to mark the SEA.

In fact, the Continuous Assessment Component (CAC) added to the SEA in 2013 (an SBA-type element) was removed in 2016. We have in SEA today, therefore, a model consistent with the philosophy that teachers prepare students for external examinations, but the examination body marks external examinations.

Secondly, the ministry does not require its teachers, its employees, to mark the National Certificate of Secondary Education (NCSE) examinations as part of their regular duties – even though NCSE examinations are compulsory external examinations based on TT’s national curriculum.

Teachers are hired and paid privately by the ministry to mark NCSE examinations. Furthermore, NCSE’s coursework component is taken from students’ regular term reports and assignments, not any separate SBA-type projects specifically demanded by any external examining body or syllabus.

The logical question to ask may be: “Shouldn’t the ministry uphold the principle of payment for marking of external examinations in the CSEC and CAPE as it does with other external examinations?”

The answer is, unfortunately, that bad habits die hard, and expecting that teachers can be compelled to mark SBAs without compensation is one of the worst habits that the ministry and CXC have acquired over the years.

Instead of expressing gratitude to teachers for going beyond the call of duty, the ministry has threatened disciplinary action for teachers demanding simply to be compensated for their labour.

Instead of lobbying in teachers’ interest or acknowledging the onerous weight that SBA preparation and marking foists on teachers, CXC has created more elaborate marking and non-marking demands on teachers of its syllabuses, including electronic data entry and assessment design.

The ministry has exploited the goodwill of teachers for so long that it would take collective, resolute action of teachers to convince it that teachers should be paid to mark SBAs. From this month, we act. Our members will not mark SBAs without compensation. TTUTA says to the ministry, no more! It’s time to pay teachers.

For more on this story go to: https://newsday.co.tt/2018/09/04/its-time-to-pay-teachers/

IMAGE: teach.com

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