The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture has suspended Grades 5 and 7 National Standardised Achievement Tests for this year in order to re-align the analysis and reporting programme to the revised syllabi, as a result of the national curriculum reform. The ministry announced this in a letter forwarded to this publication after enquiring about claims from worried parents, who only learned recently that their children will not be sitting for their year-end standardised tests. The Grade 5 and 7 National Standardised Test provides schools with diagnostisc information about what learners know and are able to do in key learning competencies and to keep track on school progress from year to year, therefore this is not an internal or external examination. The ministry instructed schools to set their own examinations for promotional purposes, as the SATS are not used for promotional purposes.
Parents at several schools have inundated this publication with concerns about the decision, with some bemoaning the timing of the announcement. “The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture has for the year 2016, implemented a new curriculum from Grade 1 to Grade 7. With the new changes in the syllabus, it is required from the Directorate of National Examinations and Assessment to diligently re-establish the Grades 5 and 7 National Standardised Achievement tests in line with the revised syllabuses and the scheme of assessment for English Second Language, Mathematics and Natural Science which emanated from the national curriculum review,” it said in the letter. It further stated: “For this to happen and for the national assessment to regain its position and serve its purpose, the outstanding technical work needs to be done by a well-qualified and experienced service provider to ensure its timely and successful completion. It should also be noted that the ministry will pilot the test items before they are used in schools.”
The ministry asserted that the pilot testing can only be done when learners who are in Grade 5 and 7 this year are in Grade 6 and 8, as they need to complete the whole syllabus before the pre-test of items can be done. “This is to ensure that they are able to respond to questions without any doubt.” “The matter was discussed by the National Examination, Assesssment and Certifcation Board for its consideration and approval before the suspension was implelemented for 2016 only,” said the ministry. The ministry is in the process of obtaining permission from the Tender Board of Namibia for the use of a consultant in the implementation of this project, as from 2017. The consultant will be required to develop and implement a series of activities that are geared towards supporting the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture and specifically the DNEA, in enhancing its capacity in statistical and psychometric data analysis concurrently with NIED’s recent curriculum reform. “During this time, the consultant will work with DNEA to update the data analysis tools developed in SPSS software, WINSTEPS and Microsoft Excel, and school reporting tools in SPSS and Microsoft Word,” the statement indicates. It further states that the consultant will provide intensive hands-on training to DNEA in carrying out statistical and psychometric data analysis using the updated tools and conduct standard setting workshops in collaboration with DNEA for Grades 5 and 7. “Overall, the consultant is expected to provide technical assistance to DNEA to meet these needs and also provide necessary advisory support to DNEA from time to time.”
- According to the ministry, the consultant will be expected to perform and deliver on tasks such as:
- Updated data analysis tools developed in SPSS and WINSTEPS: The consultant will produce the updated data analysis tools for Grades 5 (English Second Language and Mathematics) and 7 (English Second Language, Mathematics and Natural Science).
- Updated test equating tools developed in SPSS and Microsoft Excel: The consultant will produce the updated test equating tools for Grades 5 (English Second Language and Mathematics) and 7 (English Second Language, Mathematics and Natural Science).
- Updated school reporting system in SPSS and Microsoft word: The consultant will produce the updated school reporting system for (English Second Language and Mathematics) and 7 (English Second Language, Mathematics and Natural Science).
- Conduct capacity building workshop: The consultant will carry out a capacity building workshop for DNEA’s Education Officers on updated data analysis tools and school reporting system.
- Conduct standard setting workshop: The consultant will prepare power-point slides and other related materials (rating forms, evaluation form and data analysis template) for standard setting workshop.