The Minister and Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga and Mr Enver Surty, hosted aDBE Assessment Roundtable as part of the Oliver Tambo Debate Series on 19 July 2016 at the DBE in Pretoria. The theme for the Roundtable was: Basic Education + Effective Assessment = Inclusive Growth; How assessment can play a role. The commissions focussed on the following areas of discussion: national assessment; classroom assessment; examinations; examinations; and technology in assessment.
The Roundtable Discussion, which brought together a broad spectrum of leading assessment specialists and various education stakeholders, was aimed at developing an integrated framework for improved learner assessment in the GET and FET band. The event also created a platform for consolidating an integrated national assessment framework for implementation in South African schools.
Addressing the Assessment Roundtable participants, Minister Motshekga said that the Department remained committed to broadening the consultation and engagements with key stakeholders in addressing a number of the challenges that confront Government in improving quality education. “We believe strongly that partnership in education will yield positive results towards our common vision of building a strengthened and improved system of assessment with greater opportunities for teaching, learning and remediation leading to a Better Life for All,” remarked Minister Motshekga. The Minister further thanked the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation, the European Union, the UNDP, the Wits School of Governance and the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation for their enormous contribution in making the Assessment Roundtable a success.
The Minister highlighted that quality assessment in education is an integral part of measuring success, as it determines whether or not the goals of education are being met. “Assessment affects decisions about grades, placement, advancement, instructional needs and curriculum,” said Minister Motshekga. “Assessment inspires us to ask these questions: Are we teaching what we think we are teaching? Are students learning what they are supposed to be learning? Is there a way to teach the subject better, thereby promoting better learning?” stated the Minister.
“Today’s students need to know, not only the basic reading and arithmetic skills, but also skills that will allow them to face a world that is continually changing. They must be able to think critically, to analyse, and to make inferences. Changes in the skills base and knowledge our students need require new learning goals; these new learning goals can change the relationship between assessment and instruction. Teachers need to take an active role in making decisions about the purpose of assessment and the content that is being assessed.”, explained Minister Motshekga.
The Minister said that the DBE, together with the Provincial Education Departments, must continue to establish a common understanding and application of standards across all levels of the system through guidelines on the exemplification of assessment tasks and assessment evidence. “This process must be coupled with the training of teachers in the development of assessment tasks and marking, as well as rigorous and extensive quality assurance procedures,” she said. Minister Motshekga stipulated that the biggest challenge lies in the area of the School Based Assessments (SBAs) where every teacher is an assessment practitioner.
Assessment experts were divided into four commissions to exchange views on ways to improve quality assessment for the better. The objective of the commissions were to identify the current limitations in three main forms of assessment in the GET and FET band; to make recommendations for the improvement in the quality, standard and utilisation of data in each these forms of assessment; and articulate the role played by technology in assessment in enabling quality assessment and how this can be implemented in the South African context.