Umalusi: Matric adjustments confidential

2011-01-19 19:24

Cape Town - The extent of the adjustments made to the 2010 matric results will not be made public, the council responsible for assessing and qualifying the National Senior Certificate exam, Umalusi, said on Wednesday.

Briefing Parliament's basic education portfolio committee, Umalusi chair Sizwe Mabizela told MPs the National Qualifications Framework Act allowed the council to change the raw marks.

Such "standardisation" was done per subject. He said Umalusi did not make such decisions public.

"There has been a lively debate on why Umalusi is not willing to disclose the decisions that were made in respect of each subject," he said.

However, standardisation was "highly complex" and "very technical". Further, the information was "sensitive", could lead to erroneous interpretations, and might prove prejudicial to pupils.

"It is not secret, it is confidential," Mabizela told MPs.

Standardisation didn't exceed 10% 

Standardisation was an international practise, used to "mitigate the effects of factors other than learners' knowledge and aptitude on the learners' performance".

Mabizela also revealed that the standardisation carried out on the 2010 matric results had not exceeded 10%.

"In general, no adjustment should exceed 10%. So, we can adjust upwards to a maximum of 10%, or downwards to a maximum of 10%.

"If [for example] you have a 300-mark paper, you cannot take away marks from learners in excess of 30 marks, nor can you add more than 30 marks.

"When circumstances so dictate, Umalusi is allowed to exceed that, but that is exercised in an extremely judicious manner.

"I am happy to report that in no stage in the 2010 standardisation did we exceed the bounds that we have explained," he said.

Raw marks

Raw matric exam marks could either be adjusted, or accepted as scored.

"Yes, we do adjust marks downwards if the evidence at our disposal necessitates such.

"And if it's the case that the paper was set at an appropriate level, there were no problems with the conduct and management of the examination, and, when looked at in relation to the previous cohort, everything looks fine, then, in those instances, we accept the raw mark.
"Because, we don't just adjust marks for the sake of it.

"We adjust them if there are sound educational reasons that come before us in the form of qualitative information, and that is corroborated by the statistical information before us and the performance of the cohorts in the previous years."

General principles

It was important to be consistent across the years, he said.

"We must ensure, through the standardisation process, that there is consistency... a distinction in 2008, should carry the same currency as a distinction in 2009, and it must do the same for 2010," Mabizela said.

According to a document tabled by Umalusi at the briefing, the general principles applied in the standardisation of marks include:

- that, in general, no adjustment should exceed 10% or the historical average;

- that adjustments in excess of 10% can be considered at the "upper end" to increase the number of distinctions in a subject;

- that in the case if individual candidates, the adjustment effected should not exceed 50 percent of the raw mark obtained by the candidate; and,

- that if the distribution of the raw marks was below the historical average, the marks could be adjusted upwards, subject to the limitations.

Read more on:    umalusi  |  education  |  matric

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