Here are the proposed exam changes for all grades at South African schools

The Department of Basic Education has detailed its plans to make up for lost teaching time and possible curriculum changes for the remainder of the 2020 school year.

South Africa’s school year has been drastically shortened due to the country’s coronavirus lockdown with a number of students returning to school in September for the first time since the middle of March.

In a parliamentary presentation last week, the department said that it has put together a framework for curriculum recovery post the Covid-19 lockdown.

The framework proposed a revised school calendar, curriculum reorganisation and trimming, as well as the revision of assessment requirements.

As part of this framework, the department has developed three different scenarios based on the available teaching time for the remainder of the year.

These scenarios account for further schools shutdowns either at the national level or because schools are forced to close due to the infection of staff/pupils.

  • Low road – Significant disruptions 60% and more of teaching hours lost;
  • Middle road – Moderate disruptions 30% – 59% of teaching hours lost;
  • High road – Minimum/No disruptions (less than 30% of teaching hours lost).

The below calendar indicates how these different scenarios could play out in practice.

Assessment changes for lower grades

The presentation also outlines a number of proposed changes for the end of year assessments that are set to be conducted across a number of the lower grades.

This includes proposed changes to bother the end-of-year exams as well as changes to how the mark from the school-based assessment (SBA) is calculated.

These proposals have not been formally introduced and may be subject to change.

The changes are outlined in more detail below:

  • The SBA for Foundation Phase (Grades R–3) – Will remain unchanged at 100%, however the final mark will be calculated from the assessment completed in terms 1, 3 and 4;
  • The SBA in Grades 4–9 – Will be revised to count 80% of the final mark;
  • The end-of-year school-based test in Grades 4- 9 – Will carry a weighting of 20%;
  • Reports – Will only be issued at the end of Term 3 and Term 4 based on summative and formative evidence.

Final exams for grade 10 and 11 

The department proposed the following changes for grade 10 and 11 examinations:

  • Final promotional examinations should be replaced with a formal final class test which is school-based;
  • Common tests or examinations, even at the district-level, should be discouraged;
  • For promotional purposes, a ratio of 80:20 should be used (80% School-Based Assessment to 20% final class test);
  • In the case of Grade 11, the final class tests can be limited to the elective subjects, and examinations conducted only in the fundamental subjects namely: Mathematics/Mathematical Literacy; Language of Learning and Teaching (LOLT) and Home language (HL);
  • Life Orientation (although part of the fundamentals) could be assessed through a formal class test.

Final exams for grade 12

Basic Education minister Angie Motshekga has reiterated that there will be no ‘trimming’ or concessions made for the final matric examinations, however the results are set to be released later than expected.

  • All schools will write a trial examination from September and ending no later than the first week in October (max three weeks);
  • Life Orientation Common Assessment Task to be completed on 19 October;
  • Final examinations from 5 November to 15 December 2020;
  • Marking will be done from 4 January 2021 to 22 January 2021;
  • Ministerial announcement of results on 22 February 2021. Release by schools/MEC announcements: 23 February 2021.

Next steps and catch-up in coming years

The department said that it is working on a ‘capacity building programme’ for school management teams to enable schools to exercise their autonomy in curriculum planning;

It said that templates will also be sent to provinces to demonstrate what schools can realistically cover in 2020 and what they have to take over to 2021, 2022 and 2023.

Other proposals for the end of the year include:

  • Dedicate the rest of 2020 to supporting Grade 12 learners for the NSC exams and to teaching the core competencies (Gr R-11) in preparation for learning post-2020.
  • Reduce the scope of the final assessment for promotional purposes to align to the revised weighting (80%/20%).
  • Commence with a ‘competence-based curriculum’ to increase the depth and to infuse active pedagogies and skills-based assessment practices.

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Here are the proposed exam changes for all grades at South African schools