2014 matric exams fair, credible: Umalusi

By: More Matshediso

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

The council’s chairperson, Professor John Volmink, on Tuesday commended the Department of Basic Education (DBE) 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. However, Volmink said Umalusi will not approve the release of grade 12 results of 39 centres in KwaZulu-Natal and 19 centres in the Eastern Cape.

Volmink said this was due to evidence of ‘group copying’ in the two provinces shown by the special investigative audit report from the DBE.

“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 will therefore not approve the release of the results of these centres.

“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,” Volmink said.

He 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 both Umalusi and each of the assessment bodies.

The assessment bodies include the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), Benchmark, South African Comprehensive Assessment Institute (SACAI) and Independent Examinations Board (IEB).

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

He said there were 1 741 examination centres in KZN and 924 in the EC. 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.

He said Umalusi was 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,” he said.

Monitoring irregularities

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

“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.

“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,” said Volmink.

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 has strengthened the National Curriculum Statement (NCS).

“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,” said Volmink.

He said the CAPS curriculum was phased in in 2012 for grade 10, 2013 for grade 11, and 2014 for grade 12.

“… The 2014 NSC [National Senior Certificate] examination represents the first year that the new CAPS curriculum is being assessed at the grade 12 level,” he said.

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

These subjects include Agricultural Management Practices, Agricultural Technology, Economics, Dance Studies, Geography, History, Electrical Technology, Mechanical Technology, Mathematics, Physical Sciences, Life Sciences.

Volmink said 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.