NAIROBI: An elaborate two-week Standard on Saturday investigation has exposed the full extent of the massive failures in last year’s national examinations. It shows that only 45 schools had students scoring a mean grade of ‘A’ out of the more than 6,000 centres.
The exams that were administered under a new regime led by straight-shooting Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i shockingly show that 15 academic giants that were among the top 20 schools in 2015 were blown off the charts by new entrants.
In the most extensive data mining and number crunching story construction ever witnessed in a Kenyan newsroom, The Standard on Saturday established that the top six schools in the 2015 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination were all toppled by those that were not even in the top 20 list that year.
So drastic was the tinkering in positions that Moi High School Kabarak, which was ranked position one in the 2015 KCSE, dropped to eighth. Nyanza-based Maseno School, which ranked second in the 2015 examinations, did not make it to the top 20 in the new rankings by The Standard on Saturday and verified by Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) sources.
According to the ranking Alliance High, that was third in 2015, dropped 10 places to position 13 in last year’s exams.
Releasing the results at the Shimo La Tewa High School on December 29, Dr Matiang’i said it was not possible to either rank schools or candidates.
“This is because we are yet to operationalise the law recently passed by Parliament, which among other things, requires that we conduct research, consult widely and come up with regulations that provide a basis for the ranking,” he said.
He added: “I, therefore, call for patience as we seek the best way forward on this front; I wish to assure Kenyans that the Ministry will put in place a water-tight mechanism to help us to implement the law.”
But a list compiled by our data journalists and cross-checked with results from schools and Knec shows that nine of the 2015 top Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination schools were all eclipsed from the list in the 2016 rankings.
Only Light Academy is ranked seventh in the 2016 KCSE results, which saw Alliance Girls emerge the best school overall countrywide.
Alliance Girls was not ranked among the top 20 schools in 2015, meaning it emerged from a near academic wildness to top the list. The results have been widely acclaimed as the most credible in Kenya’s assessment process following years of cheating and other malpractices. However, the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) has contested this, citing several procedural irregularities in the manner the results were released .
Kenya High School emerged second in last year’s KCSE exam – it did not make the top 20 in 2015.
Releasing the exams Dr Matiang’i praised the two schools for consistency in the number of ‘A’s they produced over the two years.
“I must commend some girl schools that have, unlike many other schools, nearly maintained their achievement of top mean grades in the KCSE 2016, including Alliance Girls and Kenya High School,” Dr Matiang’i said. “Alliance Girls had 25 candidates obtaining a mean grade of ‘A’ plain, the same as last year, while The Kenya High had 21 candidates with mean grade of ‘A’ plain, one more than last year.”
Alliance Girls had a mean score of 10.18 (B+) while second placed Kenya High had a mean score of 9.96 (B+). The highest possible score for any school is a mean score of 12.00 (A).
Emerging third in last year’s exam was Thika-based Mang’u High, another sterling performer in years gone-by, but which has consistently been consigned to the academic desert for long periods.
With a mean score of 9.93, the school has managed to rise from the wrong side, having not been among the top 20 in 2015.
Little-known school, Kisima Mixed in Nyandarua, would puzzle many by emerging fourth, beating many established names.
It is following by county-mate, Karima Girls, which rose to fifth in last year’s examinations, up from 19 in 2015. The school had a mean score of 9.81.
Kericho-based Moi Tea Girls was the top ranking extra-county school, which emerged sixth nationally, with a mean score of 9.78.
Moi High School Kabarak, ranked first in the 2015 examinations, was eighth with a mean score of 9.66.
Another consistent performer, Pangani Girls, closed the top 10 list, recording a mean score of 9.56, according to The Standard on Saturday analysis.
Schools that were among the top 10 in 2015 but disappeared from the top league included Maseno (2), Alliance High (3), Utumishi Boys Academy (4), Kapsabet Boys (5) and Sacho (8). Others are Light Academy (9) and St. Francis Ranga’la (10).
Alliance High was pushed down to position 13, while Kapsabet is now ranked 15, 10 places below its ranking in 2015.
The data show that while most schools recorded a drop in performance, others such as Mary Hill posted an improvement in mean performance. The school has a mean score of 9.44, ranking position 19, up from the outside of the top 20 in 2015.
School Principal Imelda Baraza was elated at the improvement but added greater efforts will be made this year to record a better climb to the very top of the log.
“Our eyes are firmly set on the Number 1,” she told The Standard on Saturday.
In all, nine Girl schools made it among the top 20 institutions, beating boys convincingly. Five schools were for boys while the rest were mixed.
The situation mirrored the performance of individual gender where 16 girls were ranked among the top 20. Alliance Girls had the highest number of candidates among the top 20, with seven candidates.
Kenya High had six, while Nairobi School, Alliance High, Lugulu, Moi High School Kabarak, Loreto High, Limuru, Mang’u and Kaplong Girls produced one candidate each.
In the previous year, Moi High School, Kabarak had a lion’s share of the top 20 candidates, posting 14 candidates.
The new performance patterns were also recorded in the number of mean grade ‘A’ posted by various schools over the two years.
Dr Matiang’i expressed concern over the shock drop, noting that there were only 141 candidates who obtained an overall mean grade ‘A’ in the 2016 KCSE examination compared to 2,685 in 2015.
The same drop, he said, was also recorded in the total number of candidates who scored the minimum university entry mean grade requirement of C+ and above.
“The number of candidates with minimum university entry qualification of mean Grade C+ and above was 88,929 in the 2016 KCSE examination compared to 169,492 in 2015,” he said.
Among schools, only three posted a two-digit figure in the number of ‘A’s. Other than Alliance Girls and Kenya High, only Alliance High, with 14, was the only other school to have more than 10 candidates scoring a mean grade of A (plain).
The previous year, Alliance High had 207 candidates who scored mean grade of ‘A’ plain.
In all, only 45 schools out of the more than 6,000 institutions recorded at least one candidate scoring an ‘A’ plain.
Most head teachers welcomed the new exam order and Matiang’i reforms.
Lugulu Girls principal Margaret Mechumo said completion of syllabus by March last year played a critical role in the performance. The school produced the third best student nationally—Benedette Aoko who scored an ‘A’ of 83 points. “Our target this year is a mean of 10.5. The excellent performance is a result of early completion of syllabus. We then embarked on intensive revision until examination period,’’ said Mechumo.
Mr Paul Kibet, the principal of Nairobi School that produced the best candidate nationally, forecasts better results this year.
“What has helped us is a tradition of excellence that is borne by the cooperation of students, teachers, board, parents and all we have had to do is maintain the momentum over the year,” he said. Mr John Muthiora of Strathmore School was upbeat after the institution emerged top in Mathematics and English nationally.
“We have invested more on character formation of the students and this has had positive effects on their academic performance. We ensure that the students are disciplined and of great character,” he said.
Kaplong Girls principal Clara Langat said the performance was one of its best in many years owing to the number of candidates who qualified to join university. The school produced the 20th best candidate nationally, Immaculate Chepkoech.
“We are here to stay at the top and this year we are ready to replicate the same performance and I am asking my candidates and teachers to put extra efforts,” she said.
Moi Tea Secondary School principal Mary Koske said they were delighted by the results which saw 139 candidates qualify for university, with three scoring ‘A’ plain.
“One of our main focus in the strategic plan is to ensure that all of our students join public universities without their parents being forced to take them for parallel degree programmes,” said Mrs Koske.
Mr Paul Musamali, principal of Segero Adventist Academy, which was 20th nationally, said all 29 candidates met the minimum university entry grade.
“In the past years exams were being circulated even in social media in turn compromising merit and many undeserving candidates achieved manipulated marks,” he observed.
St Patrick’s High School Iten, a national school in Elgeyo Marakwet County, managed a mean score of 8.28 compared to 10.7 in 2015. But the principal, Wilson Yego, said they were happy with the results and would focus on subjects which were poorly performed.
“Our students got what they worked for and we are happy with our results. They are credible,” said Mr Yego.