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32 GCE O-Level A-Maths Paper 2 scripts lost in UK; second such incident in a year

SINGAPORE — For the second time in about a year, national examination scripts sent to the United Kingdom for grading have gone missing, this time after an examiner’s bag containing the scripts was “mistakenly taken” on a train.

Students react as they receive their GCE O-Level results on Monday (Jan 14). For the second time in nearly a year, national examination scripts sent to the United Kingdom for grading have gone missing.

Students react as they receive their GCE O-Level results on Monday (Jan 14). For the second time in nearly a year, national examination scripts sent to the United Kingdom for grading have gone missing.

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SINGAPORE — For the second time in about a year, national examination scripts sent to the United Kingdom for grading have gone missing, this time after an examiner’s bag containing the scripts was “mistakenly taken” on a train.

The Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) said in a statement on Monday (Jan 14) that 32 scripts for the GCE O-Level Additional Mathematics Paper 2 were lost on Nov 21 last year. The Cambridge examiner in question was travelling to the north of England from London, intending to do some marking there, when his bag was taken by another passenger.

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Of the 32 affected students, more than half, or 20, came from Nan Hua High School. The remaining 12 were from Hong Kah Secondary School, now known as Jurongville Secondary School.

The students were briefed separately on the incident after collecting their O-Level results on Monday. Twenty-nine of them (91 per cent) passed the subject, with nearly two-thirds obtaining distinctions.

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Their grades were awarded based on how they did in their A-Maths Paper 1, relative to their cohort’s performance. SEAB and Cambridge Assessment also considered their preliminary examination scores, the statement said.

In total, 17,038 students sat for the GCE O-Level A-Maths paper last year. Paper 2 makes up 56 per cent of the total score.

The 32 affected students can choose to retake the exam on Feb 15, and will receive their results at the end of February. The better of their two grades will be recorded as the final one.

Speaking to reporters at a media briefing on Monday, SEAB chief executive Tan Lay Choo said the incident was disappointing and also “shocking”, as it came on the back of last year’s incident which saw 238 GCE A-Level Chemistry scripts stolen.

SEAB will be meeting with senior officials from Cambridge Assessment later this month and Ms Tan said the issue of the missing scripts would likely be discussed.

“Besides tightening the process and (looking into) the assurance they can give us, we are also looking at whether there is a cause for us to seek penalties,” she told reporters.

Cambridge Assessment said in a public statement that the examiner in question “breached Cambridge Assessment’s security policy of transportation of scripts by leaving them unattended”.

“As a result, this examiner will not be engaged to mark scripts in the future,” it added, noting that it has taken steps to remind other examiners of keeping their scripts secure.

AFFECTED STUDENTS HAVE UP TO FRIDAY TO DECIDE

The 32 affected students will have up to Friday to decide if they want to take the re-examination. Both Jurongville Secondary and Nan Hua High School said that their affected students have yet to decide if they wish to take up the option.

Two students from Jurongville Secondary School told TODAY that they were happy with their A-Maths grades.

Said 17-year-old Ngui Kai Xuan, who scored a C6: “My A-maths is always not that good, so I’m quite happy that I passed.”

Fellow Jurongville student Nurul Hidayah, 17, told reporters that she had thought she did badly in A-Maths, but was satisfied with what she got. She declined to reveal her grades.

At the briefing for affected students, Kai Xuan said there was an “awkward silence” when the school revealed that the papers had been lost.

Hidayah added: “I think some of them feel quite disappointed.”

Both Jurongville and Nan Hua High School will be working with students intending to retake the paper.

A Nan Hua High School spokesperson said: “We have also deployed one of our teachers, who has many years of experience under her belt, to work with and support the affected students who wish to take up the option of re-examination.”

Jurongville principal Chan Yew Wooi said that starting from this week, the affected students’ A-Maths teacher will be setting aside every Friday afternoon to help those students preparing for re-examination.

HOW IT HAPPENED

Oct 30, 2018: The A-Maths Paper 2 exam is held. The scripts are then sent to Cambridge Assessment in the UK for marking.

Nov 2, 2018: Examiners in the UK receive the scripts and begin marking.

Nov 21, 2018: The examiner who is marking the 32 scripts is travelling by train from London to the north of England. He has with him the scripts in a bag that he initially keeps beside him.

However, the train soon becomes crowded and he has to put his bag on a luggage rack. It is mistakenly taken by another passenger.

Nov 22, 2018: The incident is reported to Cambridge Assessment and an investigation is launched to locate the bag.

Dec 14, 2018: Cambridge Assessment alerts SEAB to the incident.

Dec 21, 2018: SEAB receives an incident report from Cambridge Assessment. Marking and grading of all scripts is completed, and the affected candidates’ grades are derived.

The search for the missing scripts is still ongoing.

NOT THE FIRST TIME

Some 238 students who took the GCE A-Level H2 Chemistry paper in 2017 were informed on Feb 23 last year that the scripts for one of their papers were stolen while being delivered for grading in the UK.

The affected students, all of whom passed, came from Anderson Junior College, Anglo-Chinese Junior College, Hwa Chong Institution and Nanyang Junior College. They were given their final grades for H2 Chemistry based on their performance on the other three papers.

In 1993, some 261 O-Level English Literature exam scripts from four schools also went missing in the UK, but it was not established back then whether they were stolen.

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