BRIDGETOWN, Barbados -- The overall performance for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) May/June 2014 examination continued the gradual upward trend started in 2012. This year, 66 percent of entries achieved acceptable grades, Grades I – III. This compares favourably with 65 percent in 2013 and 62 percent in 2012.
Of the subjects offered, performance improved in 12, declined in 19 and remained constant in five.
Physical education and sport was the subject with the best overall performance. Ninety-nine percent of the ten thousand entries achieved Grades I-III, compared with 94 percent last year. Theatre Arts had the next best results; 94 percent of the seventeen thousand entries achieved acceptable grades compared with 93 percent in 2013. Food and Nutrition caps off the top three best performing subjects with 91 percent of entries achieving acceptable grades.
English and Mathematics
Performance in the English and Mathematics offerings also continued the positive trend from last year except English B which had a marginal decline. This year English A saw a one percent improvement over last year’s performance. Fifty-nine percent of entries achieved acceptable grades compared with 58 percent last year and 47 percent in 2012. Seventy-two percent of entries for English B achieved acceptable grades compared with 73 percent in 2013 and 68 percent in 2012.
Mathematics saw the most improved performance of all subjects offered in 2014 compared with 2013. Forty-nine percent of entries achieved Grades I-III, which is a 14 percent improvement over 2013 when 35 percent of entries achieved similar grades; and 16 percent improvement over 2012.
The Subject Awards Committee attributed the improved performance to improvement on most areas on the examination with the exception of trigonometry and geometry.
Additional Mathematics, in its third year, recorded an improved performance over the two previous sittings. Seventy-six percent of entries achieved Grades I-III this year compared with 70 percent last year and 58 percent in 2012.
Of the science subjects, performance improved in Chemistry and Physics and declined in Biology, Agricultural Science Double Award (DA), Agricultural Science Single Award (SA), and Human and Social Biology. Sixty-eight percent of entries for Chemistry achieved Grades I-III compared with 62 percent in 2013, while for Physics there was a 10 percent improvement with 77 percent of entries achieving Grades I-III compared with 67 percent in 2013.
Both Agricultural Science DA and Agricultural Science SA saw significant decline in performance this year. For the Double Award, the percentage of entries achieving acceptable grades fell from 96 in 2013 to 75 this year, while for the Single Award, the percentage fell from 93 percent in 2013 to 78 percent this year. For Biology and Human and Social Biology there was a two-percentage point decline; Biology dipped to 72 percent, from 74 percent last year and Human and Social Biology dipped to 62 percent, down from 64 percent last year.
All the subjects in the business cluster recorded declining performances of varying degrees. Seventy percent of entries for Economics achieved Grades I-III compared with 81 percent in 2013. The Subject Awards Committee noted that questions relating to the business environment, exchange rates, economic integration and balance of payments posed challenges to candidates.
For Principles of Accounts, 68 percent of entries achieved acceptable grades compared with 75 percent in 2013. Principles of Business had a four percent decline year on year with 75 percent of entries achieving acceptable grades compared with 79 percent in 2013.
Office Administration had a five percent decline with 73 percent of entries achieving acceptable grades this year compared with 78 percent in 2013. Candidates were challenged by topics such as financial services, closing stock, and operating balances, the Subject Awards Committee reported.
Performance in Electronic Document Preparation and Management (EDPD) remained the same as last year’s – 86 percent of the entries achieved acceptable grades.
The subjects in the expressive arts cluster with the exception of Visual Arts recorded improved performance when compared with 2013. Ninety-nine percent of the entries for Physical Education and Sport achieved acceptable grades, compared with 94 percent in 2013. Music saw an eight percent improvement with 78 percent of entries achieving acceptable grades compared with 70 percent in 2013. Theatre Arts saw a slight improvement, from 93 percent of acceptable grades last year to 94 percent this year.
Performance on Visual Arts declined by eight percent – 69 percent of entries achieved acceptable grades compared with 77 percent in 2013.
Technical and Vocational
There were mixed performance in the technical and vocational subjects. Performance in Home Economic Management and Technical Drawing improved by seven percent and three percent respectively. Ninety percent of entries for Home Economic Management achieved acceptable grades this year while 83 percent achieved similar grades in 2013. For Technical Drawing 77 percent achieved acceptable grades this year and 74 percent achieved similar grades last year.
Food and Nutrition saw a marginal decline from 92 percent of Grades I-III in 2013 to 91 percent this year; Building Technology – Construction also saw a one percent decline – 80 percent this year compared with 81 percent last year.
Both Electrical and Electronic Technology and Mechanical Engineering Technology had a five percent decline in performance: Electrical and Electronic Technology dropped from 62 percent in 2013 to 57 percent this year, while for Mechanical Engineering Technology performance fell from 75 percent in 2013 to 70 percent this year.
Eighty-one percent of entries for Clothing and Textiles achieved acceptable grades in 2014 while 72 percent achieved similar grades in 2013, while for Building Technology – Woods 76 percent achieved acceptable grades in 2014 and 82 percent achieved similar grades last year.
The subjects in the Humanities cluster saw decline in performance this year when compared with 2013. Social Studies saw a ten percent decline in performance – 58 percent of entries achieved Grades I-III compared with 68 percent in 2013. Performance in Caribbean History dipped from 68 percent in 2013 to 62 percent this year. Both foreign languages, Spanish and French saw marginal declines – French dropped one percentage point from 77 to 76 and Spanish dropped from 70 percent in 2013 to 66 percent this year.
Performance in Geography remained steady over the two-year period at 67 percent. The Subject Awards Committee noted once again that there is a general weakness in map reading, physical geography and exposure to field work. During the Final Awards Committee meeting it was noted that several teachers of Geography are not Geography graduates and this impacts their ability to adequately deliver the syllabus.
The number of candidate and subject entries declined this year. Candidate entries fell from 149,311 in 2013 to 142,884 this year, while subject entries moved from 616,447 in 2013 to 603, 383 this year.
Mathematics was once again the largest subscribed subject with 98,542 entries, followed by English A with 94,106 entries. The next largest subject entry was Social Studies with 50,027 entries. Principles of Business is in fourth with 34,883 and Human and Social Biology fifth with 31,450 entries.
The age group 19 years and over comprised the largest single cohort of candidates, 31 percent, while the 17-year old age cohort accounted for 29 percent of candidates, 16-year olds 20 percent and 18-year olds 14 percent.
Forty-one percent of the candidates who registered for the 2014 examination were male and 59 percent female.