Bad maths: Motshekga orders investigations

2014-12-04 14:42

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has ordered an investigation into pupils’ generally poor academic performance in grades 7, 8 and 9.

The probe will home in on grade 9 pupils’ particularly bad performance in maths.

Motshekga made the announcement in Diepsloot today (subs: Thurs), where she released the Annual National Assessment (ANA) results for 2014.

“We will institute an intensive investigation into what factors contribute to low performance in schools offering grades 7 to 9 (Senior Phase) generally and Grade 9 mathematics in particular,” Motshekga said in a statement after the release this morning.

“This will provide deeper information about these schools, particularly on issues pertaining to curriculum coverage and the quality of school-based assessment.”

She identified Grade 9 as an area of concern, saying pupils were failing to grasp maths at the required level and teachers were struggling to teach it as needed.

These twin limitations needed to be confronted if the system was “to get out of the quagmire”, Motshekga said.

“Our Achilles’ heel remains the unacceptably low performance in Grade 9 mathematics. All ANA results and diagnostic reports have flagged the problem of mathematics teaching and learning throughout the system.”

As part of its investigation the department will pick 874 school which offer maths at Grade 9, for closer monitoring.

“This will provide deeper information about these schools, particularly on issues pertaining to curriculum coverage and the quality of school-based assessment.”

Other interventions she highlighted include:

» The training, in 2015, of 20 000 grade 8 and 9 maths heads of departments and teachers on the maths curriculum. A similar programme is planned towards the end of 2015 for teachers in the intermediate phase;

» All provinces and district offices are required to set up teacher development programmes;

» The department will launch a “drop-all-and-read” period in all schools across the sector. During the period teachers will be expected to drop everything and engage in a variety of reading programmes. Recent research out of Unisa suggests that the lack of reading in the foundation phases is the main reason pupils have learning deficits by the time they reach the intermediate phase; and,

» The department will develop binding performance agreements that officials throughout the system will have to sign and adhere to. It is also developing key performance indicators for district directors, circuit managers and curriculum advisors.

Details about the investigation will be released in due course, the department said.

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