Forget the matric pass rate – here’s what government says you should look at instead

The Department of Basic Education is trialling a new way of reporting matric performances – looking beyond an overall pass rate in favour of a ‘basket of results’ that take into account other factors.

The announcement of the matric pass rate is a headline event in South Africa, with many stakeholders looking to gauge the standard of education in the country.

In 2018 the department mooted the ‘Inclusive Basket of Results’ as a secondary mode of performance reporting, and it has been trialled for the last three years.

The metric has been largely unknown and unreported, as the basket performance is not announced at the same time as the matric results, with the department opting to publish it later in the year. The 2021 results have only recently been published.

Responding to a parliamentary Q&A this week, basic education minister Angie Motshekga said the basket is still being trialled, adapted and amended, based on feedback.

“The Council of Education Ministers made a decision that the Inclusive Basket of Criteria will be piloted for a few years so as to obtain feedback on the uptake of this new system of reporting and to ensure that the criteria are appropriately selected,” she said.

“Over the last three years, the criteria have been amended based on feedback on what should be the priority drivers in the system and there has been a shift from aggregating the individual scores of the selected indicators to reporting on each of the criteria individually.”

Motshekga said the Inclusive Basket of Criteria has been used as the secondary mode of reporting, while overall pass percentage remained the primary reporting tool. This will be reviewed once again this year and a decision will be taken as to how the Inclusive Basket of Criteria will be used in 2022 and beyond.

Basket of Criteria performance

At inception, the basket of results included seven criteria which were all weighted so as to determine an overall score.

In the 2021 assessment, two additional criteria were added taking the total to nine, and the summation of the individual scores, and weightings were removed.

The 2021 Inclusive Basket of Criteria includes:

  1. Overall Achievement
  2. Mathematics Participation
  3. Mathematics Achievement
  4. Physical Science Achievement
  5. Technical Mathematics Achievement (new)
  6. Accounting Achievement (new)
  7. Admission to Bachelor Studies
  8. Distinction Achievement
  9. Throughput rate

This is how the class of 2021 performed:

“The rationale for the Inclusive Basket of Criteria is to move away from a single determinant of the performance of the schooling system (i.e. Overall Pass Percentage) to a more comprehensive set of quality indicators that more accurately reflect the performance of the schooling system at the end of Grade 12,” Motshekga said.

The specific subjects which include mathematics, physical science, technical mathematics and accounting, represent the priority subject fields that need to be promoted in the schooling system, she said.

“Accounting has been added as a proxy subject for the business, commerce and management subjects, and technical mathematics added as a proxy subject for the technology stream. Admission to bachelor studies and the distinction achievement are strong indicators of the quality of the achievement and throughput rate reflects the efficiency of the system.”


Read: South Africa’s ‘real’ matric pass rate is far lower than government’s figures: DA

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Forget the matric pass rate – here’s what government says you should look at instead