Dropping exam results blamed on "unsettledness"

By Matai'a Lanuola Tusani T - Ah Tong 21 January 2020, 6:14PM

A drop in the proportion of students qualifying to enroll at all National University of Samoa (N.U.S.) programmes has been blamed on an "unsettled" school year interrupted by the measles epidemic and the Pacific Games. 

The number of students achieving required grades for university enrollment in all programmes last year stood at 92.6 per cent, compared to 95.5 per cent in 2017.  

The provisional results released by the Ministry of Education on Tuesday for the Secondary Schools Leaving Certificate noted a 2.5 percentage point drop in the number of students qualifying to enter the N.U.S. Foundation programme: from 57.7 in 2018 to 55.2 last year. 

This year's rate represents an even further drop of more than eight percentage points from 2017 when 63.7 per cent of students qualified for the university's Foundation programme. 

The number of students able to enroll in Technical Vocational Education Training (T.V.E.T.) programmes also decreased by 1.1. per cent compared to 37.5 in 2018.  

A statement from the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture blamed "unsettledness" in 2019 for the year's poor results. 

The Ministry pointed to many students being occupied with the Pacific Games commitment and delays from the measles epidemic State of Emergency (S.O.E.).  

“These two events directly impacted national examinations with many students athletes opting to take up the 3-month training in China,” says the Ministry. 

The Ministry pointed out more than 2000 students were involved in the Pacific Games Opening and closing ceremony. 

After the Pacific Games, the S.O.E. caused delays for the final week of exams and saw more students depart for holidays overseas with other students being unable change flights, the Ministry explained. 

“Given the unsettledness experienced by everyone as a result of ‘not knowing’ what/whether/when the National Examinations was to be held, the final turnout of S.S.L.C. students to sit their exams was praiseworthy,” the Ministry said in a statement.

“This is a credit to everyone - students, parents, teachers, Principals, health officials, Ministries and the public.” 

In order for students to qualify for N.U.S. they are required to meet a minimum of 200 marks for English and best three subjects while T.V.E.T. programme attracts a minimum of 120 marks. 

Provisional results provided by the Ministry noted from the 1825 students that sat S.S.L.C., a total of 55.2 per cent of them made the cut to enter N.U.S. Foundation.

“In 2019 there is a slight drop to 55% [for N.U.S. foundation] in comparison to 2018 with 58%,” says the Ministry about Foundation results. 

“However given all the dramas in 2019, this decrease can be expected.  

“Furthermore the M.E.S.C. recognised the importance for students to be creative, critical and analytical thinkers and in 2017, the National Examinations were reviewed to ensure that this was being addressed.  

“As a direct result, the weighting of low level test items (or questions), to high level test items was changed from 50:50 to 40:60 respectively.”

The Ministry said it continues to work with Examiners and Moderators to improve the quality of exam papers. 

It stated a course on writing moderating exam papers will soon be offered in N.U.S. through Oloamanu and will help increase the number of certified examiners and moderators for the national exams. 

By Matai'a Lanuola Tusani T - Ah Tong 21 January 2020, 6:14PM

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