Umalusi: matric exams were fair, credible

31 December 2014

The 2014 matric exams were fair and credible, according to Umalusi, the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training, despite incidents of copying in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

The council’s chairperson, Professor John Volmink, on Tuesday, 30 December, commended the Department of Basic Education for running a successful and credible examination process.

Umalusi has approved the release of the exam results, which were written by 550 127 full-time and 138 533 part-time candidates. The results will be released next week.

However, Volmink said Umalusi would not approve the release of the Grade 12 results of 39 centres in KwaZulu-Natal and 19 centres in the Eastern Cape.

This was due to evidence of “group copying” in the two provinces shown by the department’s special investigative audit report.

“Of the 74 centres identified for auditing in KwaZulu-Natal, 39 were implicated in cheating and of the 43 centres identified in the Eastern Cape, 19 were implicated in group copying,” he said. “Umalusi will therefore not approve the release of the results of these centres.”

The organisation was of the view that strong action should be taken against those pupils and supervisors who had “made themselves guilty of these acts of dishonesty”, Volmink said.

Gaining the approval of Umalusi for the release of results was determined by the examinations’ level of compliance with policies, directives and guidelines issued by Umalusi and each of the assessment bodies.

These include the Department of Higher Education and Training, Benchmark, South African Comprehensive Assessment Institute and Independent Examinations Board.

“Umalusi requires that each assessment body provides a report on irregularities,” Volmink said.

There were 1 741 examination centres in KwaZulu-Natal and 924 in the Eastern Cape. The irregularities occurred in roughly 2% of the centres.

In light of this, Volmink said Umalusi did not view this as compromising the integrity of the examination as a whole in these provinces or the country. Umalusi was satisfied that nothing had compromised the integrity or credibility of the examinations process.

“Accordingly, we hereby approve the release of the results of the National Senior Certificate Examinations administered by the Department of Basic Education.”

Volmink said Umalusi received irregularity reports from the various assessment bodies and it was pleased that there had been no reports or evidence of leakages of examination papers in any of the examinations.

New curriculum put to the test

With the new national Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) programme being tested for the first time at matric level this year, Volmink said it was widely accepted that the CAPS curriculum had strengthened the National Curriculum Statement.

CAPS was phased in in 2012 for Grade 10, 2013 for Grade 11, and 2014 for Grade 12.

While many subjects had not experienced dramatic content changes from the previous curriculum, Volmink said a number of subjects had undergone significant changes in content or in shifts in format.

In total, 58 subjects were presented for standardisation.

“After moderation, raw marks were accepted for 35 subjects. This figure represents 60.3% of the subjects. Of the remaining 23 subjects, moderation with some upward shifts towards the average historical learner performance profile was effected on 13 of the subjects; moderation with some downward shifts towards the average historical learner performance profile was effected on 10 subjects,” he said.

Maths, science marks fall

Umalusi was also reported to have said that the results for mathematics, mathematics literacy and physical science were worse than in 2013.

Mathematics had undergone major changes in content with the inclusion of Euclidean geometry and probability, Volmink said in Pretoria on Tuesday, 30 December.

He said the curriculum would prove a challenge to most pupils. “This was shown in the learner performance in that there is a significant increase in the failure rate compared with 2013.

“However, learners at the top experienced the mathematics examination much easier.”

In mathematics literacy pupils did “significantly worse” in 2014 than in any previous year. Upward adjustments were made to the marks at all levels for mathematics literacy. Normal mathematics had no adjustment at the bottom end and a slight downward adjustment at the top end.

SAinfo reporter and SANews