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Cape Town - Only 13.9 percent of last year’s Grade 9 pupils passed a provincial test which assessed their maths skills.
The results of the 2012 provincial language and maths tests for Grades 3, 6 and 9 were announced on Monday by Education MEC Donald Grant and provincial education head Penny Vinjevold.
The tests were conducted in October, and more than 250 000 pupils in the three grades participated. They had to achieve 50 percent to pass.
The low Grade 9 maths pass rate was an improvement on the 2011 results, when only 10.9 percent of pupils passed.
Grant said there had been improvements in language and maths performance in every grade tested.
The results showed that:
- The Grade 3 maths pass rate had increased from 47.6 percent in 2011 to 51.5 percent in 2012.
- The Grade 6 maths pass rate increased from 23.4 percent in 2011 to 26.4 percent in 2012.
- The Grade 3 language results showed the biggest increase, from 30.4 percent in 2011 to 38. 9 percent in 2012.
- The Grade 6 language results increased from 31.5 percent in 2011 to 36.9 percent in 2012.
- The Grade 9 language results increased from 44.2 percent in 2011 to 48.2 percent in 2012.
Vinjevold said the Grade 9 maths pass rate was a consequence of what happened in the first three years of schooling. She said “tremendous support” would be given to this grade, as well as to Grade 10.
Grant said the provincial education council had undertaken to look into the provincial maths and science strategy and ways to strengthen it.
The department said the problem areas included the following: division in Grade 3 maths, fractions in Grade 6 maths, while pupils struggled with all areas in Grade 9 maths.
In language, pupils in all three grades struggled with “reading of complex sentences and paragraphs, answering inferential and interpretative questions and writing paragraphs”.
Dr Jonathan Clark, director of the Schools Development Unit at UCT, said it was encouraging that there had been improvement.
“It is definitely a step in the right direction. There is a sense that things are settling down. The implementation of the new Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements in the foundation phase has made it a lot easier to support teachers, and teachers know better what to teach.”
He said the support offered by the department through its numeracy and literacy strategy had also played a positive role.
Clark said that, for the majority of pupils, however, socio-economic circumstances were not conducive to learning and the impact thereof should not be underestimated when analysing school results.
He said one of the key factors to improvement was teacher professional development, and the department had to be commended for its commitment in this regard.
Professor Cyril Julie, FirstRand Foundation chair of mathematics at the University of the Western Cape, said the tests were not considered “high stakes” by pupils.
It didn’t have any impact on their final result for their grade. This could mean that pupils didn’t take it seriously.
He said that, if the results were disaggregated, the performance in low socio-economic areas was likely to be poor.
He said some of the questions that should be asked were whether the tests had tested what pupils were actually being taught in class, and how the provincial tests compared with their final tests at the end of Grade 9.