What matric marks really mean

2004-01-06 21:30

Johannesburg - Before the subject marks for last year's matric exams were adjusted, nearly two thirds of the candidates who wrote biology on standard grade (SG) had failed with an FF symbol (between 30% and 33%).

More than 58% of pupils in English second language higher grade (HG) got an F symbol (34% to 39%) and 68% of candidates failed mathematics SG with an FF.

The education department and standards authority Umalusi released these statistics at a media conference in Pretoria on Tuesday to explain the controversial process of examining, moderation and standardisation.

After adjustments, 57.9% of the candidates did not pass biology (SG) and 47.4% did not make English second language (HG). The percentage of failures in mathematics was reduced from 68% to 61.2%.

Education director-general Thami Mseleku said the department wanted to assure each pupil and parent again that the matric results were "credible" and a true reflection of each individual's attempt.

"No marks were manipulated."

Various factors taken into account

Dr Cassius Lubisi, chairperson of Umalusi, said 69 external moderators, experts in their subjects, moderated 2 245 question papers.

"All question papers that were moderated were of an acceptable standard, although first-concept papers that were presented to external moderators varied from poor to excellent."

Professor Paul Fatti, convenor of Umalusi's statistics task team, said various factors were taken into account when marks adjustments were being considered.

Marks were adjusted to ensure the exam was of the correct standard. The results of previous years, for example, were taken into account as well.

As evidence of Umalusi and the department's "transparency" regarding the results, the original marks as well as the adjustments were made public in the six subjects in which pupils wrote the same papers countrywide.

Of the 39 548 pupils who wrote accounting on higher grade, almost 40% failed. These marks were not adjusted.

Just more than 12% of the candidates got A symbols and this was reduced to 9.88% (after adjustments, 46.77% of the pupils got more than 50% in the subject. In 2002, 29.9% got more than 50%).

Initially, just more than 20% of the 106 621 pupils who wrote accounting on standard grade failed the subject. After the marks were adjusted, this moved up to 25.9%. The number of pupils with A symbols was dropped from 4.8% to 3.26%.

After the marks were adjusted upwards for biology (SG), 30.33% had more than 50%.

While 44.57% of the 19 545 candidates in English second language (SG) got more than 50%, 20.2% scored between 30% and 33% and failed.

Nearly 60% of the 52 215 candidates who wrote physical science (HG) obtained an F symbol (30% to 33%) and therefore failed.

After adjustments, 56.6% failed. A total of 73.3% of pupils scored an E symbol (40% to 49%). This was adjusted to 70.4%.