Western Cape Education Breaks New Ground with Improved Literacy and Numeracy Testing
I am pleased to announce the successful start of the annual Literacy and Numeracy testing in the Western Cape.
This year's testing is significant as it is the first time such testing has been conducted on such a massive scale.
Over two hundred and forty-seven thousand (247 000) Grade three (3), six (6) and nine (9) learners will be taking part in these tests in the next ten (10) days, compared to eighty-three thousand (83 000) learners last year.
In previous years, Grade threes (3s) and sixes (6s) were tested on alternate years, however, this year both Grade threes (3s) 80 918 and sixes (6s) 82 632 will be tested.
It is also notable, that this is the first time in South Africa that Grade nine (9) learners will be tested. Eighty-two thousand six hundred and thirty two (82 632) learners will be participating in the Grade 9 pilot which will cover the Language of Learning and Teaching (English and Afrikaans) and Mathematics.
Another first for this province is the inclusion of independent schools in the testing. Earlier this year we invited independent schools to participate and we are pleased that twenty nine (29) independent schools will be writing the Grade six (6) tests and twenty three (23) schools the Grade nine (9) tests.
I am very excited that the Western Cape is, once again, leading the rest of the country in literacy and numeracy testing.
This administration believes that it is of paramount importance that our learners are able to read, write and calculate at the required levels.
So therefore, in order to identify problem areas and to identify where to undertake targeted remedial action in the fields of literacy and numeracy performance, the Western Cape has led the rest of the country in the use of extensive testing for Grade three (3) and six (6) learners since 2002.
The tests are administered by independent service providers, which guarantee the independence of the tests and improves their credibility. Approximately eight hundred (800) test administrators including supervisors have been recruited, trained and allocated to schools.
I am particularly proud of our Department for co-ordinating this mammoth logistical undertaking.
They have effectively managed this process so that all schools throughout the province with more than ten (10)0 learners have been included and are prepared for the tests, ensuring that each learner has been identified and allocated a unique bar code for tracking of scripts. They have also been involved in the training and of test supervisors and administrators and the printing and storage of scripts.
The tests are systemic in nature and are designed to provide diagnostic assessment of the provincial education system so that the Western Cape Education Department can be best informed as how to plan their literacy and numeracy strategy in the years ahead.
The results are important as they reveal which schools are in need of assistance in improving their literacy and numeracy skills and what kind of remedial action is required to improve their results.
Teachers themselves do not get to see the papers, but are given a descriptive analysis of their results so that they know where their weaknesses lie, as well as exemplars (For Grade 3s and 6s) to use as a benchmark during the year.
Principals are briefed on the results and targeted assistance and support will be offered to schools that have not shown improvement. Community meetings will also be held to inform parents about how they can help improve the literacy and numeracy skills of their children.
This administration believes that we can only achieve excellence in education through ensuring accountability for performance. Therefore these tests play an important oversight role by giving us the opportunity to make our principals and district officials accountable by measuring the performance of their schools in these tests. It also allows parents to hold their schools accountable for their results their child's results.
Another exciting development in these tests is the pilot for individual learner results. In past years, reports of the results have only identified the provincial, district and school averages. However, a range of pilot individualised report cards will be developed this year and will be ready for roll out in 2012, thereby further strengthening the ability of parents to hold their child's school accountable for their child's performance.
Minister of Education, Donald Grant
Tel: 021 467 2377
Cell: 072 724 1422