Full scale exams for Grade 10 and 11 scrapped
Durban - PUPILS in grades 10 and 11 will not write full-scale year-end exams this year.
Instead, said the Basic Education Department, the exams will be replaced with tests set by schools, based only on material covered in a year where the curriculum was severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The decision was welcomed by some stakeholders, who said the department did not have any other choice.
The announcement was communicated via a circular signed by education director-general Mathanzima Mweli.
“The full-scale examinations in Grade 10 and 11 will be replaced by a controlled test. Controlled tests should only be set on content taught; content not taught cannot be assessed,” the circular said.
It added that the weight of school-based assessments would increase from 25% to 60%, with the controlled test now accounting for the remaining 40%, from a previous 75%. The changes were a temporary measure for this year only, the circular stated.
University of KwaZulu-Natal education expert Professor Labby Ramrathan welcomed the decision to do continuous assessments, and not have standardised exams. He said education experts have called for there to be no exams during the year.
There should be more focus on learning rather than trying to get through as much of the curriculum as possible.
Ramrathan said the department’s Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (Caps) - which guides teachers in what to teach and how to assess pupils on the curriculum - should be reviewed.
The effects of Covid-19 on teaching would be felt for the next five to 10 years, and a complete review of each subject in every grade was required. The academic said the gap between pupils from Independent Examinations Board schools and public schools would widen.
DA education spokesperson Imran Keeka said South Africa was in “uncharted territory” due to Covid-19. He hoped that progressed pupils - those moved to the next grade even if they fail - did not become victims of an under-resourced department and which suffered from corruption. Budget cuts of about R500 million would also have a severe impact on the department, Keeka said.
IFP education spokesperson Thembeni Madlopha-Mthethwa said although the department did not have much of a choice, she disagreed with the decision. She asked what would happen to pupils who seldom went to school because of the lack of space in classrooms due to Covid-19 restrictions? She said no one would assess the credibility of the controlled tests.
KZN Parents’ Association chairperson Vee Gani said tests compiled by the school would suit the pupils.
“It is going to advantage the pupils greatly If there were standardised tests done, the children would have done badly,” he said.
The department said it wanted the controlled tests to cover a substantial portion of the curriculum taught over all four terms wherever possible. It wanted the tests to adhere to a prescribed standard in terms of the content covered, and to be administered under controlled conditions.
Department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said this was a once-off measure. “What we are going to do is create more time next year to ensure that all the work not covered is covered then,” he said.