Rushed release of exam results affects integrity

Education CS Ezekiel Machogu during the release of 2023 KCPE results at Mtihani House in Nairobi on November 23, 2023. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

The government again rushed to release the 2023 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) results. This means learner outcomes in the exam concluded on November 1 were ready for release within three weeks.

Speaking during the release of the results at New Mitihani House in Nairobi, Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu also announced that Form One placement will be completed in two weeks.

He said this will give parents and guardians adequate time to prepare their children to join Form One next year.

All this appears well-intentioned. However, education experts and stakeholders such as teacher unions have previously warned that it compromises quality and inevitably undermines the integrity of the results. 

It obviously does not allow the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) adequate time to standardise and moderate learners’ scores so as to come up with a scientific grading system.

Since the rush to release exam results began in 2016, questions have emerged each year over their authenticity with aggrieved parents and schools challenging them. In 2016, for instance, Star Sheikh Academy in Athi River challenged the results announced by then Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and a Knec review saw some of them corrected.

In the following year, a mass failure in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination was blamed on the rush to release them.

In that year, nearly three-quarters of the candidates scored a D + and below.  In that exam, only 70,073 candidates achieved the mean grade of C+, the university cut-off point, with 142 candidates getting As.

Matiang’i’s explanation at the time was that the thousands of As realised in previous exams were a result of “massaged” results.

But Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) secretary general Akelo Misori and others, differed, instead offering that the mass failure was the result of a lack of a comprehensive audit.

Misori even claimed the release of the results on December 21 barely a month after the conclusion of the exams was finalised even before the marking process was over.  It appears that we are yet to learn lessons from this as the fast-tracked result releases continue unabated.  This year, for instance, some students received results for subjects whose exams they did not sit.

While in 2017, examiners were subjected to military-like conditions at the marking centres, this time they were promptly paid and released, which though welcome, now raises eyebrows.

Though it is believed things will improve with the change of the national examination system, it is still our hope we will not witness the same with the 2023 KCSE exam results.  This is because apart from undermining quality, it also jeopardises the efforts made by learners and teachers.   

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