Cape Town - The Annual National Assessment (ANA) for pupils, which has been at the centre of a spat between unions and the Department of Basic Education, will be replaced with a new systemic assessment, which will be written every three years.

In Pretoria on Tuesday, Mathanzima Mweli, director-general of education, said the ANA, which assesses pupils’ numeracy and literacy skills, had been re-engineered.

The new assessment will start in 2018.

He said unions and some education experts had said that testing pupils annually didn’t allow enough time for development.

One of the unions’ concerns had been that writing the tests annually didn’t allow schools enough time to implement intervention programmes.

Last year, unions called for a boycott of the tests, which were introduced in 2011.

About 8.6 million pupils across the country were scheduled to be assessed last year, but following the call for a boycott, only some schools wrote the tests.

The department eventually announced that the results would not be made public.

In January, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced that a task team set up to undertake the remodelling of ANAs had held monthly meetings from September to December to finalise preliminary groundwork on its redesign.

On Tuesday, Mweli said the new systemic assessment would form one part of an integrated assessment framework. He said the assessment regime in Basic Education had been reconfigured.

“We are now talking about an integrated assessment framework, which has three legs. One leg is systemic, which is an assessment that is going to replace ANA.

The second leg is what we call summative assessment, which should cover your exit points of the system. Because it’s summative, it’s going contribute to the promotion and progression of learners. We need to be looking at grades 3, 6 and 9. We are not firm as yet on Grade 3,” he said.

“The third leg is what we call diagnostic assessment, which will be voluntary for teachers to use the assessment items to enhance their capacity to set quality tests or assessment items and to use that on an ongoing basis in the classroom.”

He said the last Council of Education Ministers meeting had received a report on the matter, while a meeting with unions had also been held. “We got overwhelming support in terms of systemic assessment.”

Unions would participate in finalising the summative and diagnostic assessments.