Cape Town. 131028. Students writing Matric exams English Paper 1 at Gardens Commercial High School in Cape Town. Reporter Michelle Jones. Picture COURTNEY AFRICA

Cape Town - Removing life orientation (LO) from the Grade 12 examinable curriculum will probably result in a lower pass rate, says the task team appointed to investigate the standard of the national senior certificate.

“The pass rate of the traditional low-achieving pupil group (in the Basic Pass and the Higher Certificate) will probably fall, as LO’s disproportionately high marks are currently inflating pupils’ marks at the lowest levels,” read the report.

It was recommended that LO be removed “from the promotion requirements for the national senior certificate”.

“Reduce the Grade 12 LO content, retaining sections related to physical education and career counselling during Grade 12 without either of these topics being assessed.”

Other recommendations included:

* Assess pupils on LO at the end of Grade 11 as a prerequisite for entrance into matric.

* Focus assessment of LO in Grade 10 and 11 on citizen education.

* Teachers with training and qualifications in LO should be deployed to schools.

The task team members said there were a number of challenges facing the subject.

“While it is widely acknowledged that the content of the curriculum and the learning outcomes are valuable for this age group, the subject does not enjoy the prestige of other subjects and so is often not given serious attention or not taught well. This relatively low prestige and neglect is exacerbated by LO being assessed internally and not in the public examination.”

The team noted that LO was “widely valued as an important subject to inculcate morals and values” and to provide physical education and career advice to pupils.

An examination of raw LO results from 2009 to 2013 found:

* Marks were “consistently inflated” in underperforming schools.

* Marks were “sometimes reduced” in better performing schools.

* Schools tended to inflate marks at distinction level.

* LO marks inflated the national pass rate.

* LO achievement was significantly above the majority of other subjects and did not correlate with performance in other subjects.

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Cape Times