Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) Set to Revamp Grading System for KCSE Candidates

The Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) is currently in the process of developing a new grading structure for Form Four candidates within the 8-4-4 education system. This new grading system aims to enhance the fairness and effectiveness of evaluating student performance in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams.

David Njengere, the Chief Executive of KNEC, shared insights into this initiative, explaining that the proposed grading structure aligns with recommendations put forth by the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms (PWPER). The PWPER noted that the existing 8-4-4 education structure primarily focuses on summative assessments for certification and placement.

While Kenya has maintained a consistent grading system, minor adjustments notwithstanding, the PWPER recognized the need for a comprehensive re-evaluation of the grading framework to address persistent challenges. One of the key concerns identified is the current grading’s impact on learners whose strengths lie outside the designated subject clusters.

Njengere highlighted that the KCSE grading system considers seven subjects: English, Kiswahili, Mathematics, two Science subjects, and two additional subjects. This structure inadvertently disadvantages students whose best-performing subject does not fall within these specific clusters.

The Chief Executive acknowledged the significance of this proposed change during the 39th Association for Educational Assessment in Africa (AEAA) conference. He noted that Kenya, unlike countries such as Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia, uniquely employs its current grading system, and the upcoming revision aims to align it more closely with international practices.

“We are going to look at PWPER recommendations and come up with a proposal on how grading can be affected because remember although we are doing away with the 8-4-4 system, we still have five groups,” explained Njengere, emphasizing that the country is making efforts to mitigate the adverse effects of the current grading approach.

Njengere further disclosed that the upcoming changes will necessitate a stakeholders’ meeting to gather insights and perspectives, ultimately leading to the refinement of the grading system.

The PWPER’s recommendations focus on recalculating the KCSE examination mean score, with a focus on Mathematics, English or Kiswahili, and the five best-performing subjects. This approach seeks to provide a more comprehensive evaluation of students’ academic achievements and potential.

Njengere’s statements emphasized the importance of trust and professionalism in the assessment process. He highlighted that teachers’ dedication and commitment to their students significantly contribute to the overall education system’s integrity.

While the changes to the grading system are still in the planning stages, the commitment to enhancing the fairness and accuracy of evaluating student performance reflects a collaborative effort to elevate Kenya’s education landscape. As the KNEC continues to explore potential refinements, educators, students, and parents alike eagerly await the unveiling of a more equitable and reflective grading system.


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