Annual National Assessment results released

Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Gabi Khumalo

Pretoria - The Annual National Assessment (ANA) results have been released by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga in Pretoria on Tuesday.

The assessment includes numeracy and literacy tests conducted among six million so-called foundation phase (Grades 1 to 3) and intermediate phase (Grades 4 to 6) pupils attending government schools.

The tests took place in February after pupils had completed the previous year's grade work.
The ANA results showed that nationally, Grade 3 learners performed at an average of 35 percent in Literacy and 28 percent in Numeracy, while the provincial performance stands between 19 percent and 43 percent, with the highest being the Western Cape.

In Grade 6, the national average performance in Languages is 28 percent, while Mathematics performance is 30 percent, and the provincial percent in the two areas ranges between 20 percent and 41 percent, with the highest being the Western Cape and lowest being Mpumalanga.

The assessments, set by the department, aim to provide a benchmark for all schools in the basic education sector.

The assessments are one of the key strategies that have been put in place by the department to improve learners' achievement by 2014.

It is intended to provide regular, well-timed, valid and credible data on learner achievement in the education system.

Unlike examinations that are designed to inform decisions on learner promotion and progression, ANA data is meant to be used for both diagnostic purposes at individual learner level and decision making purposes at a systemic level.

The report on the ANA will enable the department to measure the impact of specific programmes and interventions to improve literacy and numeracy.

Motshekga said the department was not surprised by the performance, given the poor performance of South African learners in recent international and local assessments.
She, however, noted that the country has its own benchmarks against which they can set targets and move forward.

"We have already begun putting in place interventions based on the challenges we have identified and confirmed through ANA. While there is no quick fix, we are confident that our interventions will bear fruit in the years to come, especially since we are now in a position to measure their impact," Motshekga said.

She acknowledged that there has been an under-emphasis on the development of basic skills of reading, writing and numeracy at the foundation levels and emphasized the need to put more focus on them.

The department's inventions include the distribution of 15 000 foundation phase learning packs for use by teachers from Grade R to 3. These include the development of lesson plans and assessment frameworks.

The department has also completed the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) to be phased into the foundation phase in 2012.

"We expect that there will be much more focus on teaching and assessment, but this needs to be supported with guided teacher development and appropriate readers and workbooks," the minister noted.

In preparation for the CAPS, Motshekga said the department has done a feasibility exercise to avoid past mistakes.

"We have trained subject advisors and provinces are continuing with the training of teachers. Our classes will also be fully resourced to ensure effective implementation," Motshekga explained.

Teachers' unions have also expressed no shock at the results, emphasizing the need for intervention.

"We are not surprised at all but commending the minister for her boldness to release them ... we need to come up with strong interventions in schools," said President of National Professional Teacher's Organisation of South Africa, Esrah Ramasehla.

Deputy President of the Professional Educators Union, Malose Kutumela, also said that the results were expected as the assessments were done after realising that the country was not performing well.

"It's the first assessments and the results were expected. When we talk of the quality learning campaign, we indicated there was a problem until all stakeholders took part," Kutumelo said, noting the importance for all stakeholders to play a role in order for the country to compete on an international standard.

The national results on a sample of learners who were in Grade 9 in 2010 are expected to be released in July.

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