In my previous post talking about the KSCE results and the best way to visualise the radical change that the year 2016 was, I began to form a hypothesis that this change (66% got a grade of D+ or worse compared to about 45% in previous years) would led to a relaxing in the entry requirements for students entering university in 2017.

In Kenya, the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) is tasked with determining which university and course students are placed in based on a number called a cutoff point (a combination of overall grade and subjects chosen and how well you performed in those subjects). While students do have the option to enter university as a private student, which entry requirements are set by the university, placement by KUCCPS means that you enter as a government sponsored student which means your school fees will be heavily subsidised by the government. In a country with high poverty rates like ours, it’s no wonder there’s so much pressure on students during KCSE.

Back to my hypothesis. Since students had done so terribly in 2016 I thought I’d set out to see if there was a similar drastic change in cutoff points year on year. So I downloaded the data, ugh PDFs, from KUCCPS’ website and set off to see if I was right. Note: 2015 cut offs apply to 2016 candidates and 2014 to 2015, don’t ask me why it just is.

First thing I did was to plot the histograms of both years cut off points and was excited to see more courses in the lower cutoffs of 2016 but this was the wrong approach because 2016 actually had 407 more courses than 2015 which, I think, is due to the introduction of private universities to the list. Previously private universities could not accept government sponsored students.

So I decided to compare directly on the course that were in both years, 1056 courses. I then subtracted the cutoffs from 2016 from those in 2015 and created the histogram again.

The graph above does show that my hypothesis was right, this year more courses where reduced than increased. The difference between the courses that reduced to those that increased was 140 courses or about 13% overall. 13% though is not as drastic as I expected though given how students performed last year, in fact looking at the histogram below you can see that the actual change is only slightly below 0(the blue line that is normalised over the histogram data) rather than much more skewed to the left, showing that the actual change in grade requirements is low.

So while I was right there was a reduction in more courses than increases, the absolute change in terms of cutoff points is not really as significant as I would have hoped. Let me know what you think of my overall conclusion in comments. Peace!!!

Notes:
Script and data to generate my visualisations

Written by Sidney Ochieng

Child at heart and mind. Feminist. Story teller. Fledgling data scientist. Your future boss

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