Vol. 11 (2004)

Reconsidering the Consequences: Gender Differentials in Performance and Placement in the 2001 SEA

Jerome De Lisle
The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus
Peter Smith
Ministry of Education


  • Academic Achievement,
  • Secondary Entrance Assessment Examination,
  • Sex Differences,
  • Examination Results,
  • Primary School Students,
  • Student Evaluation,
  • Test Construction,
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • ...More

How to Cite

De Lisle, J., & Smith, P. (2015). Reconsidering the Consequences: Gender Differentials in Performance and Placement in the 2001 SEA. Caribbean Curriculum, 11, 23–55. Retrieved from https://journals.sta.uwi.edu/ojs/index.php/cc/article/view/636


This paper provides an analysis of the gender fairness and consequences associated with the test design used for the 2001 Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) in Trinidad and Tobago. It is argued that the rational for choosing the SEA test design emphazized the usefulness and purpose of the selection instrument, but failed to consider one significant consequence: the likelihood of adverse impact resulting from large performance differentials in favour of females. The sutdy also tests the hypotheses that gender differences are (1) institution-specific and (2) vary across ability groups. The major findings were that patterns of gender inequity were complex and sometimes even contradictory, with females favoured on SEA composite total score, language arts, and creative writing and males favoured on the placement process. However, males and females performed similarly in mathematics. An analysis across different ability groups indicated that large differentials favouring females were more likely among students below the 50th percentile. On the other hand, among higher achievers, males performed just as well as females. The gender fairness of five alternative SEA test designs was evaluated using Willingham's (1999) social matrix.