Proposed Changes to KCSE Grading System: Enhancing Opportunities for Students
The grading of Form Four national examinations is poised for significant changes that could offer millions of students under the 8-4-4 education system a greater chance to improve their final scores. These proposed changes to the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) grading system have been endorsed by President William Ruto, following recommendations from the education reforms team.
Proposed Grading System Changes:
Under the new proposals, the KCSE grading system will undergo revisions to enhance fairness and reflect students’ true potential. The Presidential Working Party for Education Reform suggests that the grading should incorporate two compulsory subjects in determining final scores. These mandatory subjects will be one language (English or Kiswahili) and Mathematics. These two subjects will be combined with a candidate’s best five performed subjects to calculate the final score.
Current Grading System:
Presently, the Kenya National Examination Council (Knec) grades candidates based on five compulsory subjects and two other best-performing subjects. Knec considers a candidate’s scores in compulsory subjects like Mathematics, English, Kiswahili, and two sciences, along with humanities and other technical subjects.
Implementation and Benefits:
The proposed changes are expected to be implemented within a year, potentially benefiting the 2023 candidates. President Ruto expressed concerns about the disparity in university admissions, stating that a significant number of schools, especially in rural areas, fail to send students to universities. These proposed changes aim to address this issue by ensuring a more balanced and responsive grading system.
Response from KNEC CEO:
KNEC Chief Executive Officer, David Njengere, welcomed the proposed changes, explaining that the current grading system often hampers students’ dreams. The new system will better align with students’ career interests and strengths, allowing them to pursue higher education without being hindered by subjects unrelated to their chosen field.
Challenges with the Current System:
Dr. Njengere highlighted the limitations of the existing 8-4-4 curriculum, which forces students with diverse strengths to be tested in the same subjects, impacting their final scores. The current grading system can result in talented students being held back by subjects they are less inclined towards.
Balancing Core Knowledge and Specialization:
The proposed changes strive to strike a balance between assessing core knowledge in numeracy and literacy while enabling students to excel in their chosen fields. The aim is to separate achievement assessment from career placement, allowing students to thrive in subjects aligned with their interests.
Comparison with Other Education Systems:
Comparing Kenya’s grading system with that of other countries, data shows that Kenya ranks lower in terms of top grades. This discrepancy has led to a realization that the grading system might be overly punitive and not adequately separating achievement from placement.
Analyzing historical data, it’s evident that the 8-4-4 system led to a decline in top-grade achievers compared to the previous 7-4-2-3 system. The data suggests that the current system might not be conducive to nurturing top achievers.
The proposed changes to the KCSE grading system hold the potential to revolutionize the educational landscape in Kenya. By emphasizing core knowledge assessment and enabling specialization, the reformed system could provide students with a fairer and more promising path to higher education and career success. As these changes are considered, it’s important to recognize the need for a grading system that fosters individual talents and aspirations.