UNEB Changes Grading System

22856 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Education minister Jessica Alupo says with the new grading system, students from Uganda can ably compete with their counterparts from other countries.

Uganda's examination body - UNEB - has finally adopted a globally accepted system of grading Advanced level students. 

Known as the criterion referenced grading system, students are evaluated against an absolute scale. For example students scoring between 95 and 100% get A, while those who score between 88 and 94% are given B.

For years, the board has been using the norm-referenced system where students are evaluated in relationship to one another. The top 10% of students receive an A, the next 30% a B, and the trend continues up to the last. This grading system rests on the assumption that the level of student performance will not vary much from class to class. In this system the instructor usually determines the percentage of students assigned each grade, although this percentage may be determined or influenced by departmental expectations and policy. 

The criteria are a set number of points or a percentage of the total. Since the standard is absolute, it is possible that all students could get A or all students could get D, depending on whether they have scored the set marks.

UNEB officials say the new grading system places the students from Uganda on the same scale with students from other countries that use the same grading system.

Dan Nokrach Odongo, the Deputy Executive Secretary in charge of secondary examinations, says the new system was adopted after studying what happens in other countries. Nokrach says under the new system, a fixed grade is set for the upper limit and the lower limit, with upper being an A and the lower being E. He says with those in mind, the intermediate levels for marks in between the upper and lower limits can be easily determined.

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Odongo says for a student who sits for subjects with three papers to score an A, the person must get a maximum of seven points in three papers. According to him, the student must score two distinctions and a maximum of credit three. He says within the same rate, if the student gets worse than a credit three, the person shall not obtain an A.

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Odongo, who takes over from Matthew Bukenya as UNEB secretary later this year, says that for two paper subjects, a candidate must score a maximum of four to get an A. This means in each paper, the requirement is two distinctions.

He says the board studied the British system from which the Uganda education system originated and found it better. He says countries like Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe all use the same system.

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Professor Mary Okwakol, the UNEB chairperson says the new system will ensure that students from Uganda are rated like their colleagues from other countries using the same system. She says the system is globally recognised and therefore suitable for the country.
Jessica Alupo, the Education minister says it is a step in the right direction. She says with the new grading system, students from Uganda can ably compete with their colleagues from other countries.

Two years ago, the minister raised a red flag accusing the officials from the ministry of sending students with poor academic backgrounds on foreign scholarships. She at the time said most of the students sent couldn't compete with their counterparts from other countries. With the introduction of criterion referenced grading system, such poor quality students will be weeded out before they even present their papers for selection.