In Summary
  • From the table provided to the media, a total of 571,161 candidates were graded, with 299,268 or 52 per cent being female and 271,893 or 48 per cent being male
  • Knec statistics show that 574,125 candidates sat the examination, of which 273,130 (48 per cent) were female and 300,995 (52 per cent) male
  • Newsplex shared its concerns with Knec and asked for clarification from various Education ministry officials for days

There was a mix-up in the secondary schools national exam results, with the grades that were awarded to boys labelled as girls’ scores and vice versa, a review of the exam data by Nation Newsplex reveals.

While releasing the 2016 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination results, Education Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i said girls had performed better than boys.

The claim has since been repeated many times by different stakeholders in the education sector, including the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut). But the numbers do not add up.

A review of the table on overall performance by grade and gender that was given to the media by the Kenya National Examination Council (Knec) suggests a switch, with the grades awarded to boys labelled as those for girls, and vice versa.

From the table provided to the media, a total of 571,161 candidates were graded, with 299,268 or 52 per cent being female and 271,893 or 48 per cent being male.

These totals differ from the numbers of candidates who sat for the examination. Knec statistics show that 574,125 candidates sat the examination, of which 273,130 (48 per cent) were female and 300,995 (52 per cent) male.

Going by these numbers, between sitting the exam and grading, the number of boys dropped by 29,102 (10 per cent), while the number of girls increased by 26,138 (nine per cent), changes that could not have gone unnoticed if they actually happened.

Furthermore, the girls who were graded were more than those who were sat for the exam, which is practically impossible.

Switching around the columns makes much more sense. With this modification, the number of girls graded is only 1,237 less than those who were registered, while the number of boys graded is only 1,727 less than those who were registered.

RAW MARKS

The difference between the number of students who were graded and those who sat the examination is 2,964 (less than one per cent) and the Cabinet Secretary’s explanation that a few candidates were not graded on account of not sitting all the minimum seven subjects as required could account for it. KCSE candidates were required to sit for a minimum of seven and a maximum of nine subjects.

Last week, Knut claimed there were glaring shortcomings in the examination marking process. Among the complaints was that the step of normalising grades was missing in this year’s exam, a claim given credence by the fact that the results were released just four days after the marking of the examination papers ended.

According to Dr Matiang’i the marking exercise only ended on December 24. He released the results on December 29.

“Raw marks were graded and the grading system used was not known at all. The same grading system was used for all subjects, Humanities and Sciences. This explains the many A’s in the Humanities and hardly any in English and Science,” a report to the media by Knut states.
“There was no standardisation and moderation done at all. It is also evident that the exams were hurriedly marked and released.”

CLUSTERED AROUND THE MEAN

Dr John Mugo, an education expert at Twaweza East Africa, explains that standardisation and moderation are critical in national examinations like KCSE.

He says moderation, which is done after marking of the examination and is also popularly known as grading, basically looks at the performance of candidates in an examination.

“You come up with the minimum and discuss how to set the pass mark per subject depending on performance,” explains Dr Mugo.

He adds that after moderation, results are standardised, which is a statistical procedure that enables one to tell where most candidates are featuring in grades.

“It is also called normalising and it’s done by a statistical software and it’s clustered around the mean plus or minus the standard deviation,” explains Dr Mugo.

In KCSE, a procedure known as criteria reference is used where candidates are competing at a set standard, which is why moderation is important.

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