The Ministry of Education has unveiled a new grading system to be implemented in the 2023 KCSE exam.
According to the new grading structure, only two mandatory subjects will be required for computing the mean grade.
“In the new grading system that will be applied to the 2023 KCSE exam, the only two mandatory subjects will be Mathematics and one language, (English, Kiswahili or Kenyan Sign Language),” Education CS Ezekiel Machogu said.
In addition to the two mandatory subjects Knec will have to consider any other five best-performed subjects by the candidate.
Machogu said the new reform measure is expected to increase the number of students qualifying for universities, diploma and TVET training at certificate and artisan levels.
He was speaking on Monday during the launch of the exam season at the New Mitihani House.
Previously, the grading system for the KCSE exam considered seven subjects. They included English, Kiswahili, Mathematics, two Science subjects and two other subjects.
According to the Presidential Working Party on Education reforms, the 8-4-4 grading system disadvantaged some learners whose best performing subjects were not considered if they were not within the cluster.
They said the system provided for exams that were primarily summative for certification and placement, which led to school dropouts.
“On assessment, there are no clear guidelines on the identification, selection and placement of learners into the various career pathways and tertiary institutions. The high stakes examinations have led to malpractices and credibility issues,” the report reads.
“This encouraged unhealthy competition for limited slots in the subsequent levels of education, with learners who fail to obtain quality grades in the examinations often dropping out of school, leading to a high wastage of a youthful population.”
In the new system, the reforms say that English and Kiswahili measure the literacy level of a learner, while Mathematics and any Science subject evaluate the numeracy aspects of the learner.
In addition, they raised concerns over the integrity of formative assessment, citing compromised scores uploaded into the Knec portal by teachers and commercial agents at internet cyber cafes.
This prompted the stakeholders to recommend an external assessment by Knec, noting that it will carry more weight in determining the overall performance of learners.
“The current global practice is to blend both summative and formative assessment for effective provision of feedback on the learner’s progress and for improvement of the education sector,” the report reads.
“Countries such as England, China, Israel, South Africa and Ghana have adopted formative assessment at all levels of education and summative assessment at the end of each level of education.”
KCSE exams are set to start on October 23, 2023, and end on November 24, 2023.
The rehearsals will take place on October 19, 2023.
Knec CEO David Njeng’ere said KCSE examinations will be done twice each day and the papers will be collected twice each day.
He said the morning paper will be collected and after it is completed, it will be returned as they collect the second paper.
“With effect from this year’s exams, the collection of the KCSE examination papers will be done twice from the container,” Njeng’ere said.
He said the council will use 576 distribution centres or containers for storage of Kenya Primary School Education Assessment and KCPE examinations.
Further, 567 containers will be used for the distribution of KCSE papers.
“The council has acquired an additional 82 containers to make sure we facilitate this process especially because we have 13 newly created sub-counties which did not have containers,” Njeng’ere said.
He said the council has mapped all examination centres to the nearest distribution points so that every school is able to pick its examination paper more efficiently.
The CEO said unauthorised personnel will not be allowed in any exam centres.
“To enhance the security of the examination process, please note that no unauthorised person will be allowed in any examination centre except the centre managers, supervisors and invigilators. Please help us to enforce that to the latter,” Njeng’ere said.
He said centre managers will be required to prepare a list of all support staff on duty and submit the list to the subcounty directors of education before the start of the exam period.
Meanwhile, CS Machogu issued a warning to officers and candidates in charge of the 2023 national examinations.
He said the ministry will not spare anyone who will be involved in malpractice.
“My ministry will ensure that appropriate action will be taken against officers who contravene the rules and regulations put in place. The government will not spare any person found to be abetting cheating in examinations,” Machogu said.
He urged all personnel taking part in the national examinations, to dispense their duties with utmost professionalism in line with the set guidelines.
“All those who will be engaged in the management of this year’s examinations and assessments must uphold integrity while executing their roles and remain vigilant to deter any form of malpractice,” Machogu said.