What went wrong with our best 2013 KCPE performers?

This class performed well in 2013 KCPE exam, what happened four years later?

Half of the candidates who sat the Standard Eight exam in 2013 scored above average, pointing to a major inconsistency in the secondary school test sat four years later.

It was a perfectly normal distribution of the score among the 840,000 pupils, with the other half getting below 250 marks then.

But results for the cohort, mainly consisting of teenagers who sat their first national exam four years ago, are heavily skewed towards the poor score in this year's Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCPE) examination, raising questions on what really went wrong with the population in the short period.

More than half of the class of 610,000 performed dismally, attaining grade D and below and making them illegitimate to enter any certificate course directly.

They would also not qualify to join the security forces, which generally admits recruits with average academic abilities but with superior physical capacity.

Prof Jacob Kaimenyi, the Education Cabinet Secretary in 2013, then announced that 417,483 candidates scored 251 marks and above.

A tiny proportion of the class, 10,000 candidates, could not attain 100 marks and are believed to have dropped out of the academic journey into secondary school.

Statisticians and other examiners have said, barring any extreme factors, the results from any exam should be a fair representation of a normal population.

Maurice Mosoti, a Nairobi-based statistician, says the outcome could only have been fair if the class of 2017 consisted majority of “very dull” candidates.

“The exam results were not fairly graded because most of the candidates who would typically be a normal representation of the population were ranked below average,” Mosoti says.

He says the class was not selective, therefore their abilities could only be of fewer outstanding cases of academic brilliance and weakness, in the midst of many average achievers.

“Every student was subjected to the same exam where under normal conditions that are devoid of cheating, there would be little chance of such skewness,” says Mosoti.

Isaac Njuguna, the
director of examinations at KASNEB, says the distribution of the score in the 2017 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination was shocking.

He says in his career as an examiner, every examination cycle shows a normal distribution, with a vast majority of candidates scoring around the average.

The Standard - Saturday, December 23rd 2017.

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