malusi to ‘ensure quality matric certificate’

2010-10-21 13:15

Various standards of examination and assessment have been put in place by quality assurance body Umalusi to ensure the 2010 matric qualification will be a credible one.

Umalusi CEO Mafu Rakometsi said: “We want to instil confidence to the many stakeholders about Umalusi’s state of readiness in quality-assuring the coming important examinations. It’s all systems go for the final exams.”

About 640 000 pupils were set to write the National Senior Certificate (NSC) exams this year in about 8 500 centres across the country.

This translated into almost 5 million subject exams that would be written, marked and moderated, with Umalusi having to quality assure each step.

The body had already quality-assured internal or continuous assessments like assignments, that were written throughout the year and counted for 25% of a pupil’s final mark.

They would do the same with year-end exams, which was the external assessment component and counted for the remaining 75%.

A pupil had to be found competent in both assessments in order to pass and receive their matric qualification.

The first step in moderating the external assessment was to make sure final exam papers met all criteria and standards.

Rakometsi said all NSC question papers for 2010 had been moderated and approved, making sure they were fair, reliable, tested an adequate sample of the syllabus and challenged various cognitive levels.

The next step ahead was to monitor the conduct of exams.

Once exams had been written, they would put systems in place to monitor marking and results.

With the moderation of internal assessments for the year, Umalusi had looked primarily at teacher portfolios and individual assignments by pupils, to check they both met standards and tested the correct outcomes in a suitable manner.

This was a shift from previous years when compulsory pupil portfolios, consisting of a set list of assignments, were moderated.

Pupil portfolios were scrapped this year as part of an overhaul of the Outcomes Based Education (OBE) curriculum by basic education minister, Angie Motshekga.

A change had taken place in the approach of Umalusi towards quality assurance this year.

According to Umalusi acting chief operating officer Vijayen Naidoo, the body had decided to shift from moderation to verification, by focusing more on the individuals and organisations responsible for pupil assessment and their results.

These individuals and organisations, known as assessment bodies, were verified by the body as competent in various criteria.

Naidoo said the Department of Basic Education used a new centralised assessment body with nine provincial arms to check whether the country was ready for exams this year.

This body found that each province had adequate structures to deal with the exams and that most districts were well resourced with the proper expertise, he said.

The main weakness was security of exam papers, which would always be an issue.

Rakometsi said Mpumalanga was of particular concern as there were reports of leaked papers in last year’s final exam.

“An external task team for 2010 has been appointed to manage the province’s exams as a result,” he said.

“There is a concern that there will be a reaction from already appointed officials in this province to the external team. We need their buy-in somehow.”

The education department would print the question papers and register all candidates on behalf of the province.
“We wish matric learners all the best for their examinations,” he said.

“It is important for you to reach your full potential, and achieving good NSC results will give you plenty of options to pursue your career aspirations.”

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