PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON BASIC EDUCATIONTHE NATIONAL SENIOR CERTIFICATE: QUALITY AND STANDARDS24 April 2012
Presentation outline • Introduction 2. Qualification Design 3. The Curriculum • Examinations and Assessment 5. Learner Output 6. Evaluation of the NSC 7. Conclusion
1. Introduction • A standard is a measure of what is adequate or a socially or practically described level of performance. • Kellaghan (2002) stated that judgments regarding standards involve a degree of uncertainty, and not all individuals would arrive at the same conclusion about the merits of an object or individual. (c) Standards are illusive and in the main are developed by a process of national consensus seeking.
1. Introduction The standard of the National Senior Certificate is embodied in the : • Qualification design • Curriculum • Examination and Assessment • Learner outputs
2. Qualification Design • NSC a 130 credit certificate at L4 on the NQF • Intention of the qualification is to enrich the learner with a combination of learning outcomes that: • Provide the learner with applied competence and a basis for further learning • Enrich qualifying learner • Provide benefit to society and economy(WOW) • Internationally comparable • Integrated assessment • School leaving certificate and a Certificate for admission to university
2. Qualification Design • Based on high knowledge, high skills curriculum (NCS) • Learning Outcomes are subject-specific • Describes Knowledge, Skills and Values (KSVs) to be acquired by end of Grade 12 • Drawn directly from the COs and DOs of the constitution • Assessment standards are grade specific. • Sets up high expectations of what all South Africans can achieve. • Empowerment of sections of the population previously disempowered by the lack of knowledge and skills. • Learning fields providing wide and diverse opportunities for school leavers: Sciences, Technology, Mathematics, Agriculture, Business, Human and Social Studies, Services, Languages and Arts
2. Qualification Design Structure of the Qualification • Internal and external assessment requirements in each of 7 subjects • One language at Home Language level • One language at First Additional level • Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy • Life Orientation • 3 subjects from approved list
2. Qualification Design Scale of Achievement for Reporting and Recording CODE RATING MARKS (%) 7 Outstanding 80-100 6 Meritorious 70-79 5 Substantial 60-69 4 Adequate 50-59 3 Moderate 40-49 2 Elementary 30-39 1 Not achieved 0-29
3. Qualification Design Promotion and Certification Requirements NSC • Achieved 40% in 3 subjects, one of which is an official language at home language level. • 30% in three subjects. • School based assessment is submitted in the subject failed. • Condonation in one subject if the candidate requires up to a maximum of 2% to pass at the 30% or 40% level.
2. Qualification Design Promotion and Certification Requirements NSC (Bachelors) In addition to the NSC requirements the following additional criteria must be satisfied: • LOLT at 30% • 4 subjects at 50% (designated list)
2. Qualification Design Comparison of the NSC and the SC • NSC requires a seven subject offering, SC six. • NSC: Mathematics or Maths Literacy and Life Orientation compulsory. • Candidate could pass the SC with a converted pass of 25%, provided an aggregate of 720 was obtained. • Aggregate made redundant in the NSC with the specific requirement of 3 at 30% and 3 at 40%
2. Qualification Design Comparison of the NSC and the SC • Admission to bachelors in the SC: pass 4 subjects at 40% and 2 subjects at 33.3%. • Admission to bachelors in the NSC: 4 subjects at 50% and remaining subjects at 30%, (home language must be at 40%). • All subjects offered for the NSC are at one level which is equivalent to the Higher Grade.
3. The Curriculum Teaching and Learning – Current Interventions • Teacher development programmes targeting teachers in under-performing schools. • Development of support material – Newspaper supplements, self- study guides, worksheets, exemplar papers, radio broadcast lessons. • Subject support strategies – subject workshops focusing on content gaps. • Resource material on Thutong portal and DBE website. • Dinaledi intervention for Maths and science
3. The Curriculum • In 2010 minister conducted hearings across the country focusing on the challenges in the implementation of the NCS from Grade R-12 • 252 electronic and 173 written submissions were received • No evidence regarding opposition to the NCS at any point, but rather on implementation challenges • Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements(CAPs) : a response to concerns faced by teachers in implementing NCS grades R -12 • No fundamental curriculum policy changes in CAPs compared to the NCS • addresses concerns regarding teacher workload (particularly around assessment expectations and management) • Coherence between GET and FET curriculum expectations and guideline documents • Availability, clarity and usefulness of policy documents
4. Examinations and Assessment Question papers In the setting of question papers the following is observed: Set high quality, error free question papers that: Accurately reflect and assess students learning in line with curriculum goals Comply with policy and is of appropriate standard Generate valid and accurate data on learner performance Influence better practice by providing accurate and useful feedback to learning and teaching (b) Maintain consistency in the standard and quality of the papers from year to year, across papers and subjects 15
4. Examinations and Assessment Quality of question papers have consistently improved over the past 4 years: • Improvements in terms of what is assessed: • Knowledge, Skills and Values are assessed • Critical thinking, problem solving and analytical skills are assessed across all subjects in addition to specific skills required in the subject • A wide variety of different skills are assessed across different subjects allowing each matriculant offering 7 subjects to be well grounded in a variety of skills (b) Improvements in standard of the question paper • Cognitive demand: spread in compliance with accepted taxonomy
4. Examinations and Assessment (c) Item development processes that ensures high quality items Question papers set by a panel of examiners (4 – 6 members) Examiners are thoroughly scrutinised before being appointed. National Subject experts. Question papers are internally moderated by an independent subject expert. Question papers are subjected to external moderation by Umalusi panel of moderators (includes University subject experts)
4. Examinations and Assessment Item development processes that ensures high quality items Feedback from teachers, marking reports, Umalusi, the general public and international benchmarking constantly utilized in the setting / review of papers for the next cycle. Increased rigor in moderation processes Language simplification Rigorous quality assurance processes Introduction of pre-test takers and feedback for final refinement
4. Examinations and Assessment (d) Clear specifications and definition of content area and scope. • Development of Examination Guidelines, which are reviewed as the need arises (e) Feedback to teaching and learning: • Qualitative subject reports compiled in major subjects highlighting areas of weakness, misconceptions in learners responses and areas of focus for learning and teaching
4. Examinations and Assessment (d) Capacity of Examining Panels • Review of panel members on a continuous basis. • On going training of examiners and moderators. • Piloting of Item Banking
4. Examinations and Assessment (e) National and International Benchmarking of Question Papers: In 2002 the DBE benchmarked the Senior Certificate question papers with the Scottish Qualification Authority. The report was used in assisting to improve the quality of the Senior Certificate papers(Old qualification) In 2007 the DBE benchmarked ten NSC subjects with the Scottish Qualification Authority, Cambridge International Examinations and Board of Studies New South Wales (Australia) In 2011 the DBE benchmarked 7 NSC subjects with the SQA, CIE, BSNSW and HESA in a benchmarking process.
4. Examinations and Assessment • The strengths were identified to be as follows: • Consensus among the four institutions that the question papers are well designed by international standards and assess what they purport to assess. • They adequately measure the learning outcomes and assessment standards that are articulated in the National Curriculum Statement and the Subject Assessment Guidelines. • There is also agreement that the question papers assess analytical, application and evaluative skills and some papers are considered to reflect the latest development in the subject.
4. Examinations and Assessment • The strengths were identified to be as follows: • The content assessed by question papers is in the main, comparable to CIE, SQA and BSNSW. • The skills that are assessed by the curriculum are said to be internationally comparable and prepare learners appropriately for the global community. • Most subjects were said to assess critical thinking and problem solving skills demanded by the curriculum.
4. Examinations and Assessment • The weaknesses were identified as follows: • Question papers are too long and tend to cover almost the entire syllabus content. • Too much content limit the items from assessing intellectual depth. • Correlation between mark allocations, time allocations and item difficulty. • Multiple choice, matching and fill-in the missing words are very simple and require a simple recall response from candidates.
4. Examinations and Assessment • Quality and standard is observed in Marking through: • Appointment of competent markers. Inclusion of learner performance as a selection criterion in most PEDs. Piloting of competency tests. • Standardisation of marking guidelines at a national meeting for all subjects, prior to marking. • Standardisation of the application of the marking guideline through training using sample scripts. • Stringent moderation procedures conducted by the DBE, Umalusi and the PED.
4. Examinations and Assessment • Quality and standard is observed in Marking through: • Pyramidal structure in the internal moderation/supervision process – ratio of 5: 1. • Outcomes of the re-mark process utilised in the review of markers and training.
4. Examinations and Assessment Life Orientation (LO) • Has its unique place in the NSC. • Focuses on Life Skills, civic responsibilities, values, morals and health. • Skills are developed from birth. • Therefore, performance in LO, cannot be compared to other academic subjects. • Nonetheless, common assessment task developed and approved by Umalusi, for implementation in 2012. • Together with the Common Assessment Task - developed an Assessment Guideline, and an Exemplar. • Moderation by PED and DBE.
5. Learner outputs Learner output has improved in terms of: • Overall pass rate. • Numbers obtaining admission to University. • Number of passes in Mathematics and Physical Science. Retention rate is a challenge: • Compared to prior to 1994, retention rates have improved significantly. • In 1966: 85% of 7 -14 year olds were in Primary school. Only half of this population would reach standard 2 (grade 4) and 25% would reach Std 6 (Grade 8). • The average school life of African learners was 4 years. • Only 10% reached secondary school. • Currently, 99% of learners complete compulsory schooling
6. Evaluations of the NSC • Internationally it has been shown that it takes up to five years before a new qualification settles and therefore any review and subsequent policy change, must be done based on data accumulated over this period. • Therefore, any evaluations at this stage are preliminary and must be viewed in the light of possible teething problems. • Some claims have already been made about the validity of the NSC and HESA is experimenting with the setting of a National Benchmarking Test (NBT)
6. Evaluations of the NSC • In a recent study undertaken by Wits University, there is a strong indication that the NSC examination results are a fair predictor of the likelihood of success of students in their first year of study (Prof Yunus Ballim, DVC, Wits). • This is in contrast to the Higher Education South Africa-initiated National Benchmark Test (NBT) results, which did not clearly emerge as a better or significantly different predictor of performance. • Indeed, in many courses, the NBT results emerged as a poorer predictor of performance than the corresponding NSC results. Based on this early analysis, Wits is not yet convinced that the NBT assists in improving admission decisions and the University has chosen not to use the NBT as a requirement for all admissions to the University in 2011.
6. Evaluation of the NSC • The Wits study also indicates that, in comparison with students who wrote the old matriculation examinations, the NSC students arrive at university with different sets of competencies and ability. • NSC students appear to be performing similarly to previous cohorts in courses that are reading intensive or where group work and project-based learning are important components of the course. • On the other hand, the NSC students who entered university in 2008 appear to have struggled in the mathematics and science courses.
6. Evaluation of the NSC • Johann Engelbrecht, Ansie Harding & Patrick Phiri (2010) of the University of Pretoria, evaluated the performance of the 2009‐intake of students at university with respect to general performance, general attributes, mathematical attributes and content related attributes. • It appears that these students are better prepared with respect to personal attributes such as confidence. • However, in many instances they are weaker than their predecessors with respect to mathematical and content related attributes. • Yet, there are positive indications that these students adapt and improve over a semester.
6. Evaluation of the NSC Nel and Kistner (2009), in their research established that grade inflation occurred in the learners from the 2008 cohort, in the lower performance group. This implies that the performance of learners in the higher levels were found to be in keeping with their performance at higher education. The IEB benchmarked the NSC with UK NARIC. Their findings included the following: (a) Features of the NSC indicate a qualification with an underlying level that is both robust and fit for the purposes of examining senior secondary school levels (b) The NSC at the Grade 12 level is broadly comparable to the GCE AS-level. (c) The Advanced Programme in Mathematics is more reflective of the GCE A Level.
6. Evaluation of the NSC • There are variations in the level and content from one subject to another. • Specific improvements is needed to ensure a more satisfactory crossover content between Grade R to 9, and Grade 10. • Need for a benchmark at the Grade 10 level. • Need for an up-skilling of current teachers
Conclusion • CAPS is being implemented in foundation phase in 2012 and in Grade 10. CAPS will be progressively phased in over the next three years. 2014 will see the first cohort of learners that have gone through CAPS. • The CAPS will: • Streamline the curriculum content and scope. • Specific on assessment requirements. • Reduce the workload of teachers. • Address the cross-over content gap between GET and FET. • Increasing the compulsory content requirements for Mathematics • HESA to review the list of designated subjects.
Conclusion The DBE will continue to support and monitor the implementation of the NSC. The DBE supports policy discourses of this nature that will enhance the implementation of the NSC. The DBE encourages the ongoing research and evaluation on the NSC. The outcome of the international benchmarking will be incorporated into the NSC examinations on a phased in basis. DBE has commenced with an engagement with HESA on the NBT.