End of an era as KCPE exits stage for KPSEA

President William Ruto during the start of KCPE and KPSEA exams at Kikuyu Township Primary School, Kiambu County on October 30, 2023. [PCS]

The stage is set for a transformative change in the testing of learners in primary schools as the curtain falls on the 38-year-old Kenya Certificate of Primary Education(KCPE) examination.

Now in its second year, Kenya Primary School Education Assessment (KPSEA), will take centre stage.

Both the KCPE and KPSEA exams began yesterday, marking the end of an era for KCPE, which has been on the chopping board for promoting cutthroat competition and battle for top grades.

A total of 1.2 million candidates are sitting for KPSEA while 1.42 million are sitting for the last KCPE. President William Ruto and Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi were among the leaders who were present to witness the beginning of the two tests. 

 And starting next year, KPSEA will be the sole examination.

The new testing format aims to create a less burdensome and more student-friendly way of assessing learners, relieving the pressure of chasing top scores. KPSEA, designed for Grade 6 students under the new Competency-Based Curriculum framework, is now in its second year. 

Its purpose, according to recommendations by the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms, is not for placement but for monitoring learners’ progress and providing feedback to stakeholders.

Moving from primary to junior school will be automatic regardless of the score the candidate gets in the KPSEA. This approach aims to support the development and growth of young learners without the pressure of achieving top scores.

However, worth noting is that KPSEA will influence a student’s path to senior secondary school.  According to recommendations by the Presidential Working Party, 20 per cent of KPSEA will be used to determine the candidates’ final score at the end of junior school. This will be graded alongside 20 per cent of class-based assessments in Grades 7 and 8 and 60 per cent of an assessment similar to KPSEA in Grade 9.

Structurally, KPSEA closely resembles the KCPE examination, with some notable differences.

Candidates now answer 30 questions instead of the previous 50, and they still face multiple-choice questions, testing their ability to identify the correct answers. The examination is divided into several days, with mathematics and English being tackled on the first day.

Integrated Science (Science and Technology, Agriculture, Home Science, and Physical and Health Education) and Kiswahili on the second day.  The third and final day assesses candidates in Art and Craft, Music, and Religious Education in the Creative Art and Social Studies subject.

While KCPE will account for the final score in primary school, under KPSEA, the score will be a combination of class-based assessment and the final KPSEA score.

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