Good grades are important. In fact, they are necessary if the students’ dream careers have to be attained. The schools’ calendar is moving to its tail end. The KCSE date is approaching fast. Ordinarily, the students, parents and teachers are all anxious to prepare well and excel. Such is the importance of exams that C.S Matiang’i became a household name when he triumphantly succeeded to curb cheating in these national examinations. He is well known for the radical changes he initiated on matters education especially on exams. Exam leakages had become rampant until he showed up in the year 2016 (as C.S Ministry of Education). In fact, many schools that used to post excellent mean scores comprising of grade ‘A’ plains found themselves with unexplained low mean standard scores with the top grade ‘A’ becoming elusive.
The last three years has witnessed a painful, hopeless crying because of dismal performance in K.C.S.E. It is also prudent to note that in the last three years there has been a tremendous change in the setting and the marking of K.C.S.E. This perhaps explains why some subjects that used to be considered ‘boosters’ (C.R.E, Agriculture, Kiswahili) among others have been posting very low grades leaving many students and teachers in limbo. It is necessary therefore that renewed approach to the teaching and preparation of an examination class is adopted.
To begin with, it is necessary that schools identify the mistakes made from 2016-2018 that have seen consistent poor performance in K.C.S.E examination. Major mistakes some of which form the basis of this write up are: Failure to study and implement the KNEC reports 2016-2018, failure to embrace the emerging trends in the setting and marking of K.C.S.E, failure by candidates to master the syllabus content, poor finishing power, laxity and resistance to adopting new revision strategies, administering internal exams that do not meet Bloom’s taxonomy( The Bloom’s taxonomy is a pyramid that illustrates the levels of learning, thinking and type of questions candidates are expected to respond to and skills they must demonstrate at each level. Currently KNEC is administering examinations that test higher skills on the blooms taxonomy. The trend explains the current outcry that examinations are very challenging. The subject teachers handling the 2019 candidates class therefore must set exams that subject candidates to all levels of BLOOM’S taxonomy from the lowest to the highest level because learning at the higher levels is dependent on having attained prerequisite knowledge and skills at lower levels)
Furthermore, schools must develop strategies for weak learners. The school’s M.S.S is attained by every candidate both weak and strong academically. It is prudent therefore to develop strategies that help theses candidates to perform better. These strategies include Ability grouping, rapid assessment tests (R.A.T s) and ensuring mastery of content by initiating supervised reading of notes. Most weak learners perform dismally in the compulsory subjects and deliberate effort must be initiated to help them out. It is good to note that when a weak student scores below a D+ in Math, Biology, Chemistry and English-Literature his mean never goes beyond D+ which not only affects his performance but also the school’s. Working on the tail is a sure bet for notable positive deviation.
In addition, the candidate’s revision timetable should be blocked. Each subject should come at the same time on the timetable. This helps the ever-elusive team teaching, specialization and joint revisions. Subject teachers should be cautioned on owning a candidate class. Each of the subject teachers MUST give their best in each of the classes.
Moreover, schools must adopt the 4-core affirmative action. Practicing teachers will agree to the fact that Biology, Chemistry, Math and English (Literature ) are the grey areas for many students.. This necessitates an affirmative action to help candidates improve by allocating more remedial time on the timetable, engaging more examiners, running an examination system in the areas and carrying out internal symposium in all the subjects.
Besides these, the school must run an examination system. Students must be kept in an examinant mood across the year by exposing them to many exams. These exams should be administered without interfering with the normal programme of the school. The Exam system can be attained by engaging examiners to share on the new trends of setting and marking, having joint exams- the form fours can have a joint exam with the form threes, twos and ones. This will encourage revision especially of form 1 and 2 content. Issuing of Rapid Assessment Tests to cover form 1 and 2 content of about 30-50 marks. These are mini exams that help students to read more revise more and learn more examination skills.
Lastly but not least it is important to expose students to the emerging trends in setting and marking of K.C.S.E. The reason most schools performed dismally in the years 2017 and 2018 is because of the new trends that KNEC is employing in the marking and setting of examination. The traditional way of setting that was more comprehension oriented is now being replaced with application oriented questions. The setting of practicals is changing as well as literature set books. Without knowledge of these trends teachers will prepare students without knowing the skills to impact in them. Schools should benchmark, teachers should attend seminars and team up with seasoned examiners. It is recommendable that schools start with examiners early in the year to guide learners so as to have a more informed approach to revision and learning.
The following emerging issues should be taken into consideration: The marking scheme is more content oriented, the exam is 20% recall and comprehension and 80% application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation, paper 3 questions in the sciences coming in theory papers, C.R.E papers testing on application to present society and lessons learnt and finally more marks awarded to illustrations given than main points.
It goes without saying that if schools can adopt these strategies, then they are sure of improving their mean standard scores.