NEWS & ANALYSIS

2014 matric: Group copying found in KZN and ECape - Umalusi

John Volmink says however that irregularities occurred in 2% of examination centres in the two provinces (Dec 30)

ON THE OCCASION OF THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF APPROVAL FOR THE RELEASE OF THE FOLLOWING EXAMINATION RESULTS:

Members of the media,

Ladies and gentlemen,

1. The CEO Dr Rakometsi pointed out that Umalusi has a specific mandate as outlined in the GENFETQA Act. Central to this mandate is the responsibility to assure the quality of assessments at exit points and to issue certificates to successful candidates.

2. Umalusi Council is expected to discharge this national responsibility with a great sense of assiduousness. We owe this to the people of South Africa and to the learners whose future is directly affected by the decisions we make.

3. High stakes assessments at exit points have far-reaching consequences for learners in the education system. It is therefore necessary that all checks and balances required to guarantee fairness to all the candidates and to provide confidence are in place.

4. I can say without fear of contradiction that Umalusi has well-established, rigorous and robust procedures in order to provide assurance to parents, employers and higher education that all learners receive appropriate recognition for their performance in line with agreed national standards.

5. In the execution of its responsibilities Umalusi understands that at times it has to make unpopular decisions. At the same Umalusi remains self-critical and open to constructive criticism and feedback from the various education stakeholders. We will therefore deepen our commitment as a learning organisation to constantly strive to improve our own practices and procedures through research agenda so as to enhance our quality assurance approaches.

6. In the final analysis we exist alongside all the other education stakeholders to make a unique contribution to the quality of education in our country. So when we quality assure the work of the various assessment bodies we are sharing and applying standards and expectations in the hope that in the process these standards and expectations will themselves be raised.

7. It is for this reason that as a quality council Umalusi remains committed to improving education standards throughout the General and Further Education system. This includes all levels and grades at school and not only the NSC.

8. An important focus for Umalusi is to improving the standards of internal assessment across the General and further Education system

9. As mentioned by the CEO, Umalusi is required to approve the release of results once it is satisfied that the examinations have been conducted in a fair, valid and credible manner.

10. We have received irregularities reports from the various assessment bodies and we are pleased that there have been no reports or evidence of leakages of examination papers in any of the examinations.

11. Having said this, it is worth noting that through our monitoring and moderation processes and from reports from the DBE, we have observed that in some instances new forms of dishonesty have emerged. The public assessment system in particular faces new challenges requiring urgent attention and I shall comment on these later when dealing with the NSC examination.

12. We are going to provide each assessment body with a detailed technical report which will highlight the areas of concern and directives for compliance and improvement.

13. We expect that these reports will be cascaded to the relevant levels, and that the concerns highlighted are given the priority they deserve. Umalusi will monitor progress made in addressing the concerns raised.

14. Allow me now to provide a brief explanation why the 2014 NSC examination is a special one.

15. The Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) is the newly phased in curriculum that is very similar in content in many subjects as the National Curriculum Statement (NCS).

16. Largely it is accepted that the CAPS curriculum has strengthened the NCS.

17. The content is generally specified to a greater extent, with practical and assessment tasks specified, and direction is given to the pace at which the curriculum topics should be taught. This is aimed at ensuring that the whole curriculum is covered adequately.

18. The CAPS curriculum was phased in as follows:

2012: Foundation Phase and Gr 10

2013: Intermediate Phase and Gr 11

2014: Senior Phase and Gr 12

19. So the 2014 NSC examination represents the first year that the new CAPS curriculum is being assessed at the Gr 12 level.

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

21. The following subjects have undergone major changes:

Subject

Impact

Agricultural Management Practices

Major changes in cognitive demand

Agricultural Technology

Major changes in cognitive demand

Economics

Major changes in format and structure of question papers

Dance Studies

Major changes in format and structure of question papers as well as curriculum

Geography

Major changes in cognitive demand, format and structure of question papers

History

Major changes in format and structure of question papers

Electrical Technology

Major changes in curriculum

Mechanical Technology

Major changes in curriculum

Mathematics

Major changes in format and structure of question papers as well as curriculum

Physical Sciences

Major changes in depth of content

Life Sciences

Major changes in cognitive demand and curriculum

22. Umalusi was very vigilant in the standardisation process to ensure that 2014 candidates are not unfairly disadvantaged because of the introduction of an amended curriculum.

23. Other factors that were taken into account, is the fact that the language compensation for certain learners was decreased from 5% to 4% this year and that this will be reduced by a further percentage point each year for the next four years until it has been phased out.

24. Umalusi is tasked with quality assuring the new Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) and making recommendations to the Minister of Basic Education where necessary.

25. It is important that we pay attention not only to the so-called gateway subjects but to all the subjects in order to see learners emerging out of our schooling system "who are literate, numerate and multi-skilled, but who are also creative and confident, resilient and independent, compassionate, environmentally respectful and able to participate in society as critical and active citizens".

26. It is the case that we now have a beautiful curriculum statement; one that is internationally benchmarked and is modern and relevant, reflecting the progressive values of the constitution, with a strong focus on Africa and South Africa. We can hold up this curriculum statement with pride anywhere in the world.

27. My simple hope is that we would soon reach a point when we can hold up our assessment tools and practices with the same degree of confidence and pride.

28. In conclusion: I thank the CEO, Dr Rakometsi for his excellent leadership and all the Umalusi Senior managers and staff who work tirelessly and against stringent timelines to deliver the best for the country.

29. I would like to thank all members of the Assessment Standards Committee for a job well done. We have a wonderful new ASC with a healthy mixture of youth and experience. I would be remiss not to acknowledge the role played in the Standardisation process by Prof Moon Moodley and Prof Paul Fatti who over the many years gave mentored us and guided us to make the best possible decisions.

30. I would like to thank Prof Coert Loock for his leadership as Chairperson of the ASC and before I discuss the approval decisions and the release of the results, I now have pleasure in asking him to give us the Standardisation Principles.

Approval Decisions by Prof John Volmink (Chair of Umalusi Council 30 December 2014

ON THE OCCASION OF THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF APPROVAL FOR THE RELEASE OF THE FOLLOWING EXAMINATION RESULTS:

1. INDEPENDENT EXAMINATIONS BOARD (IEB) - NSC AND GETC:ABET

2. SOUTH AFRICAN COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT INSTITUTE (SACAI) - NSC

3. BENCHMARK - GETC

4. DEPARTMENT OF BASIC EDUCATION (DBE) - NSC

5. DEPARTMENT OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING (DHET) - GETC:ABET; NATED N1-N3 PROGRAMMES; NC(V)

Members of the media,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Over the past few days, commencing on the 15th December 2014, Umalusi's Assessment Standards Committee has been hard at work reviewing and moderating learner performance in the following qualifications.

I shall deal with the approval decisions per qualification starting with the NSC. As can be seen from the slide the NSC is offered by three assessment bodies: DBE, IEB and SACAI

In 2011 Umalusi Council took an unprecedented decision that all standardisation decisions relating to qualifications and part qualifications it quality assures, will in future be made public. The details of the 2014 decisions will be found in your information pack

Let us now turn to the results of 2014:

1 NSC Examinations administered by the Department of Basic Education

In total, 550 127 full time and 138 533 part time candidates were enrolled for the NSC examinations set and administered by the Department of Basic Education.

Umalusi has taken note of the evidence based reports on interventions and improvement strategies implemented by both national and provincial education authorities and the positive impact of these on the overall assessment system as well as on teaching and learning.

A total of 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,

Subjects with upward shifts: Physical Science; Mathematical Literacy; Religion Studies; Hospitality Studies; Agricultural Management Practices; Agricultural Technology; Information Technology; Engineering Graphics and Design; Business Studies; English Home Language; IsiZulu HL; Sepedi HL; Afrikaans FAL;

Subjects with downward shifts: Life Sciences; Mathematics; Geography; History; Electrical Technology; IsiNdebele HL; Sesotho HL; Setswana FAL; Sepedi FAL; Afrikaans SAL;

It is perhaps important to highlight the learner performance in a few key subjects:

Mathematics: had undergone major changes in content. The inclusion of Euclidean geometry and probability together with increase in statistics and data handling and algebra means that the CAPS Mathematics curriculum would prove a challenge to the majority of learners. This was shown in the learner performance in that there is a significant increase in the failure rate compared with 2013. However the learners at the top experienced the Mathematics examination much easier. Thus there was no adjustment at the bottom end and a slight downward adjustment at the top end.

Mathematical Literacy: Learners performed significantly worse in 2014 than in any previous year. Although there were no changes in the format and structure of the examination there was a shift towards exploring and understanding diverse authentic contexts. Paper I was particularly challenging for the learners. An upward adjustment was made at all levels.

Physical Sciences: The CAPs curriculum represents a slight change in format and structure but a significant increase in the depth (not scope) of the content. The learners performed worse than 2013 at all levels and so an upward adjustment became necessary.

Life Sciences: the format and structure in this subject was not affected by CAPS in any significant way. There were however fairly major changes in depth of the content. Yet the learner performance in 2014 was the best in any previous year. However the Pairs analysis shows clearly the 2014 examination was easiest in the group of subjects taken together. A downward adjustment was therefore done.

Economics: There was a major change in the format and structure of the examination since it was the first year when two papers were written. There was also a major change in the curriculum since 8 new topics have been added in CAPS. However the learner performance was only slightly down on the 2013 performance but did not warrant any adjustment.

History: There were major changes in format and structure but not in content. Students were given more flexibility to make choices according to their own strengths. However the examination appear to have been too easy at all levels and a downward adjustment was made to bring it in line with the historic norm.

Business Studies: Although there were no changes in format and structure and only slight changes in content, the learners really struggled with the 2014 examination. There were too many questions aimed at the top performers. The performance was the worst compared to any other year and so an upward adjustment was done.

Irregularities

Umalusi conducts not only the process of standardisation, which is required for national examinations, but it also, through rigorous procedures, assures the quality of the entire examination process.

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

Before such an approval is granted, Umalusi Council has to satisfy itself that no significant irregularities have occurred to undermine the integrity and the credibility of the examination process.

Umalusi requires that each assessment body provides a report on irregularities.

The special investigative audit report from the DBE has shown evidence of what can be called "group copying" in two provinces: KZN and Eastern Cape. Of the 74 centres identified for auditing in KZN, 39 were implicated in cheating and of the 43 centres identified in the Eastern Cape, 19 centres were implicated in group copying.

Umalusi is very concerned about this trend and takes the view that strong action be taken against those learners and supervisors who have made themselves guilty of these acts of dishonesty. Umalusi will therefore not approve the release of the results of these centres.

However it should be kept in mind that there are 1741 examination centres in KZN and 924 in the EC. The irregularities occurred in roughly 2% of the centres and so in the view of Umalusi this number does not compromise the integrity of the examination as a whole in these provinces or indeed in the country.

Final Declaration and release of results:

Having studied all the evidence at hand on the management and conduct of the National Senior Certificate examinations administered by the Department of Basic Education, Umalusi is satisfied that nothing has compromised the integrity or credibility of the examinations process. We are satisfied that the examinations were fair, valid and credible. We commend DBE for running a successful and credible examinations process. Accordingly, we hereby approve the release of the results of the National Senior Certificate Examinations administered by the Department of Basic Education.

4.2 National Senior Certificate Examinations administered by the Independent Examinations Board (IEB)

In total, 9 976 full time and 475 part time candidates were enrolled for the NSC examinations set and administered by the Independent Examination Board.

A total of 65 subjects were presented for standardisation.

After moderation, raw marks were accepted for 43 subjects. This figure represents 66, 15% of the subjects for which raw marks were accepted after moderation.

Of the remaining 22 subjects,

- Moderation with some downward shifts towards the average historical learner performance profile was effected on 15 subjects,

- Moderation with some upward shifts towards the average historical learner performance profile was effected on subjects.

Final declaration and release of results:

- Having studied all the evidence at hand on the management and conduct of the National Senior Certificate examination administered by the Independent Examinations Board, Umalusi is satisfied that nothing has compromised the integrity or credibility of the examinations process. We are satisfied that the examinations were fair, valid and credible. We commend IEB for running a successful and credible examinations process. Accordingly, we hereby approve the release of the results of the National Senior Certificate Examinations administered by the Independent Examinations Board on a date to be determined by IEB.

4.3 National Senior Certificate Examinations administered by the South African Comprehensive Assessment Institute (SACAI)

In total, 1190 candidates were enrolled for the NSC examinations set and administered by the SACAI.

A total of 27 subjects were presented for standardisation.

After moderation, raw marks were accepted for 24 subjects. This figure represents 88,8% of the subjects for which raw marks were accepted after moderation.

Of the remaining 3 subjects, moderation with some upward shifts towards the average historical learner performance profile.

Final declaration and release of results:

Having studied all the evidence at hand on the management and conduct of the National Senior Certificate examinations administered by the South African Comprehensive Assessment Institute (SACAI), Umalusi is satisfied that nothing has compromised the integrity or credibility of the examinations process. We are satisfied that the examinations were fair, valid and credible. We commend SACAI for running a successful and credible examinations process. Accordingly, we hereby approve the release of the results of the National Senior Certificate Examinations administered by the South African Comprehensive Assessment Institute (SACAI) on a date to be determined by SACAI.

4.4 The General Education and Training Certificate (GETC) ABET level 4 administered by the DHET

 (26) Learning Areas were presented for standardisation.

Of the (26) learning areas standardised, raw marks were accepted for (11) learning areas. Moderation with some downward shifts towards the average historical learner performance profile was effected on (06) learning areas and moderation with some upward shifts towards the average historical learner performance profile was effected on (10) subjects. Umalusi, however remains concerned with the overall poor performance of candidates in the GETC examinations ABET level 4.

Final declaration and release of results:

On the basis of its monitoring and moderation processes, and the evidence before it, Umalusi is satisfied that there were no serious irregularities that could undermine the credibility of the examinations. The Council is therefore of the opinion that the examinations were conducted in a credible manner and therefore approves the release of the results for the GETC ABET level 4. The results of individual candidates will be released on the dates determined by the DHET after Umalusi has verified the accuracy of the resulting data.

4.5 General Education and Training Certificate - (ABET, Level 4) administered by the IEB

In total, 2 486 candidates sat for the GETC ABET examinations under the auspices of the Independent Examination Board.

8 learning areas were presented for standardisation.

Following moderation, raw examination marks were accepted in all 8 learning areas.

Final declaration and release of results:

Having studied all the evidence at hand on the management and conduct of the General Education and Training Certificate - (ABET, Level 4) examination administered by the Independent Examinations Board, Umalusi is satisfied that nothing has compromised the integrity or credibility of the examinations process. We are satisfied that the examinations were fair, valid and credible. We commend IEB for running a successful and credible examinations process. Accordingly, we hereby approve the release of the results of the GETC ABET Examinations administered by the Independent Examinations Board on a date to be determined by IEB.

4.6 GETC (ABET Level 4) Examinations administered by Benchmark

In total, 58 candidates were enrolled for the GETC examinations set and administered by Benchmark.

A total of 2 learning areas were presented for standardisation.

After moderation, raw marks were accepted for learning areas. This figure represents 100%of the learning areas for which raw marks were accepted after moderation.

4.7 Other Examinations administered by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET)

4.7.1 NC(V) levels 2-4

A total of (241) subjects (84) Level 2, (81) Level 3 and (76) level 4 subjects were subjected to the standardisation process.

Raw marks were accepted for (125) subjects (52%) while moderation with some downward shifts towards the average historical learner performance profile were effected on (78) subjects and moderation with some upward shifts towards the average historical learner performance profile were effected on (30) subjects.

The percentage of raw marks accepted not only indicates a stabilising qualification but also attests to the accuracy of the Umalusi standardisation decisions over the past few years.

4.7.2 NATED N1-N3

A total of (86) subjects were presented for standardisation.

Of the (83) subjects standardised, raw marks were accepted for (46) subjects, with only minor moderation adjustments being approved for the remaining 27 subjects.

Final Declaration and Release of the results

The Umalusi Council studied the results of the November 2014 NC(V) Level2-4 and the NATED N1-N3 examinations submitted by the DHET and has provisionally approved the release of the results for the NC(V) Level2-4 and the NATED N1-N3 examinations. Based on the evidence before it Umalusi is of the opinion that the examinations were conducted in a credible manner. However the release of the results is approved with the following proviso:

That Umalusi verifies and confirms the accuracy of the resulting data prior to the DHET releasing the results

The results of the following NATED subjects under investigation for alleged irregularities are blocked pending the outcome of the investigation:

Electrical Trade Theory N3

Fitting and Machining Theory N1

Plant Operation Theory N1

A full report on the investigation must be submitted to Umalusi before the results of these subjects can be standardised.

The results of the following NATED subjects that could not be standardised due to less than 80% capture rate be made available to Umalusi for standardisation and approval as soon as possible:

 Plant Operation Theory N3

Patternmakers' Theory N2

Refrigeration Trade Theory N2

This brings us to the end of the presentation on the release of the November 2014 examination results.

Conclusion...

Umalusi Council is pleased that the system is stabilising well and has reached a significant level of maturity as evidenced by the high percentage of subjects whose raw marks were accepted after the moderation process.

We must spare no effort in ensuring that we strengthen our education from the bottom up and continue to strive for excellence in teaching and learning because we cannot depend on the standardisation process to bring about improvement in the classroom.

On behalf of Umalusi Council, I wish to extend our hearty congratulations to all the learners who have done well in their examinations. Warm congratulations also to their teachers, parents, guardians and all those who have supported these learners in their studies.

To those who have not succeeded, there is another chance for you next year! Work hard and do well next year.

Wishing you all the best for 2015.

Thank you. 

Statements issued by Prof John Volmink, Chairperson of Council, Umalusi, December 30 2014

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