Schools wrong-footed in exemptions from common tests

2013-03-21 00:00

LOCAL principals were left in limbo after the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education failed to inform them that their schools were no longer writing common tests.

The maths and language common tests started on Tuesday and ended yesterday.

In a letter sent to parents, acting principal of Athlone Primary School, Anusha Rajpaul, said they were told at 8 am on Tuesday that “over-performing schools are no longer required to write these tests”.

Scottsville Primary head Bobby Nefdt said the department had not notified the school that it was exempted from assessments.

Nefdt said the external assessments set a crucial benchmark for any school.

“If I set an internal question paper, pupils will get 80%, but if its external and then pupils get 40%, we’ll know that we’re not so great. They’re extremely important.”

Claredon Primary School was also not informed. The school found out from the department’s website that it was exempted.

On Monday, the department said in a press release that the tests would be written by schools that had obtained 35% or less in the 2012 Annual National Assessments.

Yesterday, the chief director of assessment, examination and quality assurance, Dr Barney Mthembu, said they would investigate how schools received incorrect circulars. “We said the schools that are doing well can write the tests, but it wasn’t compulsory … We truly apologise to these principals. We’ll go back to the drawing board,” he said.

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