600?000 pupils ‘bunked’ ANAs

2014-12-07 15:00

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But source in basic education department says as many as 2?million pupils did not write annual national assessments

The department of basic education has admitted that hundreds of thousands of pupils did not write this year’s Annual National Assessments (ANAs).

On Thursday, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said 7.3?million pupils from grades 1 to 9 had written the ANAs.

But a highly placed source in the department told City Press that 2?million pupils had not written the ANAs.

However, Motshekga’s spokesperson, Troy Martens, put the figure at 600?000 and said these pupils had been absent from school on the days the tests were written.

Martens said: “In the case of the languages, 283?448 learners were absent across all grades. This is 3.8% of the total number of learners that were expected to write the ANAs.

“In the case of mathematics, 320?155 learners were absent across all grades. This is 4.3% of the total number of learners that were expected to write the ANA.”

“The learners that did not write were those who were absent on the day of the test.”

The source said some schools simply did not submit pupils’ scripts and so the marks were not captured.

He claimed that a few schools had deliberately excluded weaker pupils to boost their pass rates.

Martens said that the department was not aware of such cases, but that these should be formally reported so they could be investigated.

Stellenbosch University education researcher Nic Spaull said large-scale absenteeism during the tests was a problem.

“It is obviously problematic if not all scripts are captured or if there is a high student absenteeism on the test day. From international research literature, we know these are usually the weakest schools and the weakest students who are excluded, or do not return their scripts,” said Spaull.

Motshekga introduced the tests in 2011 to test the literacy and numerical skills of pupils.

Although Spaull hailed the ANAs as “an extremely important development”, he criticised Motshekga for saying on Thursday that the results were “improving”.

“The ANA results do not show improvements. The ANAs cannot tell us if things are improving or deteriorating over time.

“They are not psychometrically calibrated to be comparable over time. Despite this, the minister continues to talk about ‘improvements’ and this is extremely misleading,” said Spaull.

At the release of the results on Thursday at a school in Diepsloot, north of Johannesburg, Motshekga said her department was going to start reviewing the tests with the aim of making them comparable over time.

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