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MINISTRY OF BASIC EDUCATION AND CULTURE

Towards Improving Continuous Assessment In Schools: A Policy And Information Guide

For Implementation In 1999

National Institute for Educational Development (NIED) Ministry of Basic Education and Culture Private Bag 2034 Okahandja Namibia

Copyright NIED, Ministry of Basic Education and Culture, 1999

ISBN 99916-48-92-5 Printed by NIED Publication date: 1999

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PREFACE The Ministry of Basic Education and Culture, through the National Institute of Educational Development (NIED), embarked on a programme to reform and strengthen Continuous Assessment in schools. Towards Improving Continuous Assessment in Schools: A Policy and Information Guide is a result of this endeavour. The policy and information guide has been developed within the policy framework provided by Towards Education for All: A Development Brief for Education, Culture and Training and the Curriculum Guide for Formal Basic Education. The purpose of the guide and the teachers manuals which will supplement it, is to clarify ministerial policies, to create a better understanding of what Continuous Assessment entails, and to provide examples of good practice to help teachers design and implement continuous assessment. The main target users of this Policy and Information Guide are Inspectors of Education, Advisory Teachers, facilitators and school management (principals, heads of department and subject heads), and teachers. As its name indicates, this guide combines policy and information issues. Whilst the guide in its entirety provides the teachers with information on various aspects of Continuous Assessment, chapters 3,5,6 and 7 mainly deal with policy issues which teachers must implement. In Chapter 9 we have included a glossary that contains definitions of terms which occur throughout the chapters. We trust that Towards Improving Continuous Assessment in Schools: A Policy and Information Guide will provide assistance and guidance which will enable teachers to implement Continuous Assessment with confidence.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This Policy And Information Guide was developed by the Continuous Assessment Working Group which was appointed by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Basic Education and Culture and operated under the auspices of the National Institute for Educational Development (NIED). This guide is meant to help facilitate teaching and learning through the positive use of continuous assessment in the classroom. The commitment and sacrifice of the following members of the Continuous Assessment Working Group to the development of this guide cannot be overemphasised: Mr Willie January, Senior Education Officer: Broad Curriculum and Curriculum Management, National Institute for Educational Development (NIED), Okahandja and also Chairperson of the Continuous Assessment Working Group; Ms Hester Eckleben, Education Officer: Compensatory Teaching/Life Skills, National Institute for Educational Development (NIED), Okahandja; Dr. R. S. Barcikowski, Assessment and Testing Advisor, Basic Education Support Project, National Institute for Educational Development (NIED), Okahandja; Mr Jesper Kristensen, Life Science Project, Windhoek; Ms Barbara Becker, Ongwediva Teachers' Resource Centre, Oshakati; Mrs Susan Alberts, Education Officer: Lower Primary, National Institute for Educational Development (NIED), Okahandja; Mrs Lorraine Maasdorp, Education Officer: In-service Teacher Training, National Institute for Educational Development (NIED), Okahandja; Mr Jurie Viljoen & Ms Claudia Tjikuua, Chief Education Officers: Educational Programme Implementation, Ministry of Basic Education and Culture, Windhoek Ms Dolores Wolfaardt, Education Officer: Directorate National Examinations and Assessment, Ministry of Basic Education and Culture, Windhoek; Mr Louw Ras, Senior Education Officer: Directorate National Examinations and Assessment, Ministry of Basic Education and Culture, Windhoek; Mr Cavin Nyambe, Senior Education Officer: Directorate National Examinations and Assessment, Ministry of Basic Education and Culture, Windhoek; Mr Roderick September, Teacher: K W von Marees Primary School, Okahandja; Ms Fenny Tobias, Teacher: Okahandja Senior Secondary School, Okahandja. Special acknowledgements are due to: Mr Cowley van der Merwe, Director: National Examinations and Assessment for his valuable discussions and advice, especially during the final stages of the document; NIED Management for their interest and support.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. 2.

INTRODUCTION TOWARDS A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF CONTINUOUS ASSESSMENT (CA)

1

2

3.

ISSUES PERTAINING TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF CONTINUOUS ASSESSMENT 11 27

4. 5.

PREMISES UNDERLYING GOOD CONTINUOUS ASSESSMENTS CONTINUOUS ASSESSMENT AT LOWER PRIMARY LEVEL, GRADES 1 - 4

31

6.

CONTINUOUS ASSESSMENT AT UPPER PRIMARY LEVEL AND AT JUNIOR SECONDARY LEVEL, GRADES 5 - 10 33

7.

CONTINUOUS ASSESSMENT (ALSO REFERRED TO AS COURSE WORK; SCHOOL-BASED WORK) AT SENIOR SECONDARY LEVEL, GRADES 11-12 36 39 40

8. 9.

BIBLIOGRAPHY GLOSSARY

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1.

1.1

INTRODUCTION

Teachers in Namibia, as elsewhere where continuous assessment (CA) has been implemented as an assessment innovation, have asked for assistance with the implementation of continuous assessment. The following quote from a teacher in Soweto South Africa may as well capture the feeling of many teachers in Namibia: "I have some fears about the introduction of this Continuous Assessment in our schools at the moment. We have been told in a vague way about it. We still have no thorough understanding of it. I see a lot of confusion in our schools about this. Teachers talk of Continuous Assessment but it seems as if they have different versions of what it means. What is this continuous assessment? Why is it being introduced now?" T. Mqingwana, Secondary School Teacher, Soweto. There are teachers in the Namibian school system who are aware of the advantages of continuous assessment and who are implementing it with success. The majority, however, seems to be hesitant and need assistance and guidance before they will be able to implement continuous assessment with confidence. It seems as if current ministerial policies on continuous assessment are experienced as general, vague and insufficient in assisting teachers at classroom level. A clear conception of the meaning of continuous assessment and practical guidelines to assist teachers with its implementation are lacking. The following are examples of the questions teachers have about continuous assessment: · Why is assessment so important in education? · Why is continuous assessment necessary? · What are the different assessment methods (types) which can be used in the schools? · What is the relationship between continuous assessment and examinations? · Should continuous assessment be an integral part of a lesson plan? More such questions exist and this document will further enlighten the concerns of teachers. The purpose of this information/policy document, and the teachers manuals which will supplement it, is to clarify ministerial policies, to create a better understanding of what continuous assessment entails and to provide examples of good practice to help teachers design and implement continuous assessment with confidence.

1.2

1.3

1.4

1.5

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2.

TOWARDS A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF CONTINUOUS ASSESSMENT (CA)

What is assessment?

2.1

To help you understand assessment, it is a good idea to understand the link between assessment, the evaluation of the assessment information and action. An example of these processes and their results occurs when you stand on a scale that assesses your weight at 100 kilograms. You then evaluate this assessment as being unhealthy for you. You then decide to take action and go on a diet to reduce your weight. This process can be summarized as: Process 1. Assessment 2. Evaluation 3. Action Result 100 kilograms unhealthy condition weight reduction diet

The following are more formal definitions of assessment, evaluation and action. They are followed by classroom examples of their use. Assessment of learners is the process of gathering information about how learners are progressing in their learning. It gathers information about what learners know and can demonstrate as a result of their learning processes. Evaluation of learners is the process of making a judgement about the quality of a learner's performance using the information gathered during an assessment. Action is what you do as the result of your assessment of learners and evaluation of their assessment information.

Classroom Examples of Assessment, Evaluation and Action Example 1 Assessment: (based on BES Project Teacher's Guide, 1996) During a Grade 1 lesson, in which a teacher is teaching the learners to identify square shapes, the teacher gathers information on whether learners can identify square shapes. Suppose the learners cannot identify square shapes. The teacher judges that it is not good that the learners cannot identify square shapes. The learners must be able to identify square shapes in order to move on to the next objectives which are to name the different shapes and to identify objects of the same shape. The teacher decides that re-teaching is necessary. Therefore, the teacher groups the learners in pairs and they practice drawing big and little squares, circles and triangles. The teacher then helps them to learn how to identify squares from among the other shapes.

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Evaluation:

Action:

Example 2 Assessment:

(based on BES Project Teacher's Guide, 1996) During a Grade 1 lesson in which a teacher is teaching the learners to identify circles, the teacher gathers information that establishes the learners can identify circles. The teacher judges that the ability of learners to identify circles is very good. The learners must be able to identify circles in order to move on to further objectives, e.g., to identify the different shapes and to identify objects of the same shape. Depending on the time available, the teacher may decide to go on to teach the next competency or to provide the learners with further instruction (enrichment) on circles. For example, the teacher may ask the learners to identify circles in common objects such as wagon wheels and bicycles. Or, the teacher may ask them to draw pictures of objects in their school that shows how circles are part of the real world.

Evaluation:

Action:

Example 3

(modified from Oosterhof, A. (1990, p.7))

The characteristic being assessed in this example is not achievement but communication. Assessment: A teacher observes a learner speaking in class without first raising her hand. The teacher is assessing the learner's communication with others. The teacher judges that this behaviour is desirable because the specific learner has never participated in class discussion. The teacher was worried that the learner might be experiencing difficulty in communicating. The teacher decides to allow this behaviour for a little while. After the learner becomes comfortable in participating in class, the teacher might decide to encourage the learner to first raise her hand before speaking.

Evaluation:

Action:

2.1.1 What are the different assessment methods (types) which can be used in the schools? Table 1 contains examples of different assessment approaches and methods (types). This table contains a wide variety of commonly used assessment methods, but does not contain an exhaustive list. The columns in Table 1 identify different approaches to assessment, e.g., Selected Response Items, Constructed Responses, Products, etc. Under each approach is a list of commonly used assessment methods. For example, the approach Selected Response Items refer to an assessment measured with a test (the approach) which item type (the method) is described in the list of methods.

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Table 1. Examples of Continuous Assessment Approaches

SELECTED RESPONSE ITEMS multi-choice true-false matching

CONSTRUCTED RESPONSES fill in the blank

PERFORMANCE- BASED ASSESSMENTS PRODUCTS PERFORMANCES essay research paper log/journal lab report story/play poem portfolio art exhibit science project model video/audiotape spreadsheet oral presentation dance/movement science lab demonstration athletic competition dramatic reading enactment debate musical recital

PROCESS-FOCUSED oral questioning observation watching") interview conference process description "think aloud" learning log ("kid

· · · ·

word(s) phrase(s) short answer sentence(s) paragraph(s) label a diagram "show your work" visual representation

· · · · · ·

web concept map flow chart graph/table matrix illustration

from McTighe and Ferrara (in press) © 1994 National Education Association Please refer to page 33 for definitions of these terms.

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Therefore, a teacher who has decided to assess his/her learners through a test may decide to have the test consist of multiple-choice, true-false or matching items. Please note that the majority of assessment approaches are not tests, but are performance based. Performance based assessments allow learners to construct a response, create a product, or perform a demonstration to show what they understand and can do. In assessing your learners, you should select the assessment method that can best measure the objectives and competencies that you seek information about. You will find examples of how to do this, and of each of the assessment methods shown in Table 1, in the teacher's manuals on continuous assessment. 2.1.2 Are some assessment methods more appropriate than others for assessing a learning objective?

Some assessment methods (types) allow teachers to determine what learners know and can demonstrate better than other assessment methods. For example, it makes sense to use a multiple choice test to assess a learner's knowledge of a topic, but it would be inappropriate to use such a test to assess the learner's ability to write an essay or to assess the learner's performance in a debate.

The nature of the learning task, e.g., the ability to apply knowledge or the mastery of a practical skill like typing, will determine which assessment type will be most suitable to use. 2.1.3 Why is assessment so important in education?

Assessment is important in education because it provides information about learning that can be used to: 1) diagnose learner strengths and needs, 2) provide feedback on teaching and learning, 3) provide a basis for instructional placement, 4) inform and guide instruction, 5) communicate learning expectations, 6) motivate and focus learner attention and effort, 7) provide practice applying knowledge and skills, 8) provide a basis for learner evaluation (e.g., grading) and 9) gauge programme effectiveness (McTighe and Ferrara, 1994).

Without assessments it will be impossible to tell whether any learning has taken place! 2.1.4 What is a reliable assessment?

Reliability means that your assessment results must be consistent. The marks from an assessment are consistent if, for example, two teachers mark the same group of learners' answer scripts and award the same marks. The marks from an assessment are consistent if a learner gets the same marks for the same work today as five days from now. The marks from an assessment are consistent if the learner's responses to one set of questions are quite similar in quality to the learner's responses to another set of questions on the same topic. If a learner's marks fluctuate greatly

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depending on which teacher marks the paper, on which day the learner happens to be assessed, or on which sample of questions happen to be asked, then these marks are unreliable. You must strive to make your assessment results reliable. Your marking of each learner's work should be very similar to the marks each learner's work would receive from another teacher. A reliable assessment is consistent in measuring whatever it is that it measures.

2.1.5 What is a valid assessment?

Validity means that your assessment results can be defended as good to use to evaluate each learner's mastery of the objectives and competencies from the syllabus that the learners actually studied. Marks from an assessment are valid if the questions match the objectives in the syllabus. Marks from an assessment are valid if the questions match the objectives in the syllabus. Marks from an assessment are valid if the content of the assessment matches the content of what the learners really studied. You should be sure that the learners' assessment results will be similar over a short period of time during which they do not change their learning greatly. You should be sure that the questions you ask learners cover the material you taught. You should avoid asking trivial and unimportant questions that do not assess the competencies and learning objectives specified in the syllabus. You must remember that your main purpose is to see if your learners have mastered the objectives and competencies that they have acquired during the teaching-learning process. Marks from an assessment are valid if your questions require the same kinds of thinking skills as stated in the syllabus. Marks from an assessment are valid when you do not write questions in which the language is confusing to learners. Valid assessments are linked to the objectives and competencies specified in the syllabus.

2.1.6 Is there a relation between assessment and the objectives and competencies specified in the syllabuses? Your assessments should be directly linked to the objectives and competencies specified in the syllabuses. This linkage is implicit to a valid assessment.

The most important thing you can do to improve the reliability and validity of your assessments is to craft the assessments very carefully to match the objectives and competencies that the learners have studied and which are listed in the syllabus.

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2.1.7 What is an informal assessment? Informal assessments are procedures for gathering information about learning that you frequently use on the spur of the moment or casually during classroom activities. They are not necessarily carefully planned, but they are meant to provide you with information that is critical for you to know at that moment. Informal assessments may include a variety of techniques including questioning a learner, observing a learner work, reviewing a learner's homework, talking with a learner and listening to a learner during a recitation. Many informal assessments need not be created with the thoughtfulness and care with which formal assessments are created. Informal assessments often occur on the spur of the moment as a teacher is presenting a lesson. For example, in Environmental Studies your learners may appear to be confused about water conservation. In order to determine if confusion exists at that moment, you may ask them a series of questions, evaluate their responses and then continue with the lesson or take another course of action. Informal assessments are in all school phases and in all lessons to support and strengthen teaching and learning. Informal assessments are usually not assigned letter grades. 2.1.8 What is a formal assessment? Formal assessments are procedures for gathering information about the learners that are created with special thoughtfulness and care and should be closely matched to the basic competencies in the syllabus. Formal assessments are conducted in situations which have been set up solely for that purpose. The procedures are administered in such a way that it is clear that the focus of the exercise is on assessing specific competencies of the learner in as valid a way as is possible. Formal assessment may include a variety of techniques such as short tests, quizzes, oral examinations, performance assessment tasks, examinations, projects and portfolios. Formal assessments are usually graded and recorded. Formal assessments by their nature can usually be designed to be more valid and reliable than informal assessments. 2.2 What is continuous assessment (CA)?

When both formal and informal assessments are done on a regular and continuous basis they are referred to as continuous assessment. Continuous assessment is meant to be integrated with teaching in order to improve learning and to help shape and direct the teaching-learning process. The assessment is continuous because: (1) it occurs at various times as a part of instruction, (2) may occur following a lesson, (3) usually occurs following a topic and (4) frequently occurs following a theme. Like a design that is woven into a fabric by a weaver, instruction and assessment are seamless. They are part of the teaching process and one naturally leads to the other.

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2.2.1 Why is continuous assessment necessary? Continuous assessment is important because it provides regular information about teaching, learning and the achievement of learning objectives and competencies. CA also allows you to assess, in a classroom environment, performance-based activities that cannot or are difficult to assess in an examination. For example, there is not enough time for a learner to create a sculpture during an examination, but a sculpture can be completed and assessed over one or more terms. Continuous assessment allows you to better use the "assessment-feedbackcorrection" learning cycle that is missing from the time-limited examination. 2.2.2 Why should continuous assessments also be valid and reliable? Most continuous assessments are informal and meant to gather information about learning during a lesson. This occurs, for example, when you spontaneously ask a question of a learner. These informal assessments may not be as well thought out as the formal assessments used for grading. But, they provide crucial information to teachers that enable them to take action during the teaching-learning process. It should be your goal, therefore, to make all of your assessments as reliable and valid as possible. The reason is that if an assessment is not reliable and/or not valid you will be evaluating false information and have the potential to take inappropriate action. For example, you will be unsuccessful at teaching long division if you inappropriately decide, based on invalid information, that all of your learners understand subtraction. This is so because long division requires subtraction. Furthermore, continuous assessments contribute to the end-of-year promotion grade and, as such, should be reliable and valid so that all learners have an opportunity to show their true mastery of the syllabus' objectives and competencies. Valid and reliable assessments can make the results of schools and regions more comparable and help to ensure the same standard of teaching across the country. 2.2.3 What is meant by formative and summative continuous assessment? Formative continuous assessment is any assessment made during the school year that is meant to improve learning and to help shape and direct the teaching-learning process. In this sense all continuous assessments are formative.

Summative assessment is an assessment made at the end of the school year based on the cumulation of the progress and achievements of the learner throughout the year in a given subject. The result of this assessment is an end-of-year letter grade. In Grades 1-4 the summative assessment is made up of the average of a grade based on informal, less structured assessments and an average grade based on nine selected graded continuous assessments. [Selected graded continuous assessments are described in paragraph 2.2.4.] In Grades 5-10 the summative

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assessment is made up of both the sum of six selected graded continuous assessments and the end-of-year examination combined according to prespecified percentages per subject. These percentages are described in the subject syllabuses. Summative assessment is meant to determine the effectiveness of a whole learning episode or course at its completion. The continuous assessment mark along with the end-of-year examination are used for this purpose.

2.2.4 What is a selected graded continuous assessment? A selected graded continuous assessment is a recorded assessment that contributes to the summative continuous assessment promotion grade in each subject. It is described as selected because teachers may grade and record several continuous assessments, but only the selected graded assessments are part of the summative continuous assessment promotion grade. The selected graded assessments should be planned and selected at the beginning of the school year. At the lower primary level, Grades 1-4, it is left to the teacher to select the objectives that are to be graded. The assessment objectives to be graded will be specified in the syllabuses for all other Grades (i.e. 5-12). Most continuous assessments are not graded because they are informal. These informal assessments play an important role in the teaching learning process. However, graded assessments require special thoughtfulness and care and must be closely matched to learning outcomes. Therefore, the continuous assessments that are graded are usually formal continuous assessments. The selected graded assessments should be planned and selected at the beginning of the school year, and should be based on the learning objectives specified in the syllabus. They are the only grades that count towards the summative continuous assessment grade. 2.2.5 Can continuous assessment be used to determine if the learners have the knowledge necessary to begin a new learning task?

Suppose that a teacher is planning a lesson on division. Division requires the learners to be able to add, subtract and multiply. Therefore, before teaching this lesson, the teacher may use one or more continuous assessment methods to assess the learners' addition, subtraction and multiplication competencies in order to decide if the learners are ready to begin learning how to divide.

2.2.6 Can continuous assessment improve the fairness of assessments?

Fairness in classroom assessment refers to giving all learners an equal chance to show what they know and can do. Therefore, it would be unfair to assess learners on something that has not been studied or to ask for

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recall of facts when the emphasis has been on reasoning and problem solving (McTighe and Ferrara, 1994:6). Continuous assessment creates more assessment opportunities and the use of more assessment methods, creating opportunities for a variety of learners to demonstrate their mastery of learning objectives.

2.2.7 Can continuous assessment contribute to more authentic assessments of learners?

Authentic assessment is usually an assessment of a learner product that is similar to what might be encountered in real work found outside of school. Essays, lab reports and computer programs are examples of authentic assessments. Continuous assessments may contribute to more authentic assessments because assessments of learner products are usually included as a part of continuous assessment.

2.2.8 Can continuous assessments be harnessed to promote learner-centred education?

The purpose of continuous assessment is to improve learning and to help shape and improve the teaching-learning process. In this role, continuous assessment provides each learner with individual feedback that allows them and their teachers to take actions best suited to improve their learning. Continuous assessment also allows for the design of assessment tasks which fit the interests of a group of learners.

2.2.9 What is not continuous assessment? End-of-year examinations are not considered continuous assessments. An examination is a formal summative assessment given at the end of a school year. An end-of-year examination is primarily meant to provide information that can be used to judge whether a learner has learned the major objectives of a course after the course is completed. An examination is not primarily meant to give information to help shape and direct the teaching-learning process. It results in a grade to help determine promotion and is also used for certification at certain school leaving points. It is, however, realised that end-of-year examinations can be useful for guiding the following year's teaching. This is especially true for the August test series in Grades 8 to 12. These end of second term assessments are considered to be a part of continuous assessment because of their use as feedback in guiding teaching and learning for the third term, and in preparation for the end-of-year examination. However, it must be emphasised that tests in any subject should be limited to a lesson or part thereof. 2.2.10 What is the relationship between continuous assessment and examinations? Continuous assessments and end-of-year examinations are meant to compliment one another. Both continuous assessments and examinations assess objectives and competencies specified in subject syllabuses. However, continuous assessments,

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because they involve more time and provide opportunity for feedback, allow for more comprehensive assessments of these objectives and competencies. When continuous assessments are done properly they should predict performance on the end-of-year examinations. This is because of the overlap between objectives and competencies assessed using continuous assessment during the school year and further assessed in an examination at the end of the school year. Given this overlap, there should be no surprise examination marks. The continuous assessment summative grade should be a good indicator to the learner, to his/her parents, teachers and school administrators of the learner's final examination mark, unless extra effort is made by the learner towards the end-of-year examination. What continuous assessments lack, because of school and teacher differences, is comparability across classes, schools, regions and nations. This comparability is provided by examinations because all learners take the same examination. As a learner progresses across the four phases of Namibian education, comparability across classes, schools, regions and nations is deemed to be more and more important. In the lower primary phase (Grades 1-4) promotion is determined solely by continuous assessment grades. In the Upper Primary (Grades 5-7) and Junior Secondary (Grades 8-10) phases teacher set examinations or internal national examinations are combined with continuous assessment grades to help determine promotion. At Grade 11 in the senior secondary phase an internal examination is given and combined with a continuous assessment mark to provide the learners with feedback on their mastery of the learning objectives. At the culmination of secondary education, Grade 12, an external international examination plays a major role in determining school leaving achievement. However, regardless of school phase or the contribution of an examination to promotion, the use of fair, reliable and valid continuous assessments will improve and predict examination grades.

Both end-of-year examinations and continuous assessments done during the year assess the competencies and learning objectives in the syllabuses. Continuous assessments consistently provide information to improve teaching and learning while end-of-year examinations assess the achievement of the learning objectives of the Grade or school-phase at its completion. Both continuous assessment and examination grades contribute to the final promotion grade.

3.

ISSUES PERTAINING TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF CONTINUOUS ASSESSMENT

Should continuous assessment be an integral part of a lesson plan?

Both informal and formal continuous assessments must be integrated into your lesson plans in order to provide the needed links between your assessments and the syllabus' objectives and competencies. Informal assessments may simply be a list of questions that you plan to ask at different times during instruction. These questions will be better if you have thought about them as a part of your lesson plan. Of course, these

3.1

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questions may also spur other questions that you decide to ask at that moment in time. Also, in order to prepare for graded formal assessments, the teacher must plan questions and examples which will prepare his/her learners for them.

Continuous assessments should never be viewed or implemented as an "add on" to the teaching-learning process or because it is considered a requirement specified by the Ministry. The potential continuous assessment to improve teaching and learning will only be realised if it is implemented as an integral part of the teaching- learning process. 3.2 Why is an assessment plan needed for selected graded continuous assessments?

An assessment plan allows you to keep on schedule so that you are able to finish your work on time. It also allows school and regional management the opportunity to monitor and assist you with your continuous assessments. Samples of graded continuous assessment plans will be provided in the Teachers' Manuals on Continuous Assessment.

3.3

How many graded continuous assessments should contribute to the final continuous assessment grade? The Pilot Curriculum Guide For Formal Basic Education (1996, p. 30) recommends:... not less than 5 (1 for the first term, and 2 each in terms two and three) and not more than 9 (three per term) selected graded assessments should be done. [The term selected graded was added to the above statement to make it consistent with this document.] The number of selected graded assessments for each school phase is given in paragraphs 5.2 and 6.4 in this document.

3.4

Why should graded continuous assessment tasks be carefully planned?

All graded continuous assessment tasks should be carefully planned so that they are fair, valid and reliable. Remember that these assessments play the important role of helping to determine whether a learner will progress to the next grade. They also provide you with information on the progress and understanding of your learners. Some continuous assessment types, such as a project, have to be especially carefully planned because they assume that the learner will master the objectives and competencies under the teacher's guidance, but without teacher directed lessons.

3.5

How do we make our graded continuous assessments reliable and valid? A reliable continuous assessment is a consistent assessment. This means that if a group of teachers marked a set of essays, the essays would receive similar (consistent) marks from a second group of teachers. One way to help achieve this is to have both the learners and the teacher be familiar with how each assessment will be scored prior to receiving the assessment. A second way is to ask another teacher, department

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head, or your principal to review your assessments and how you plan to assign marks to them. A valid continuous assessment is an assessment that you can defend as good to use to evaluate each learner's mastery of the objectives and competencies specified in the syllabus that he/she actually studied. Valid assessments will be arrived at when you assume the responsibility of aligning every continuous assessment with the major learning themes, objectives and basic competencies that the syllabus expects all learners to attain during the term or the year. You should, as far as is possible, use the same sort of situations as were used in the ordinary lessons and learning processes to assess the competency of your learners. High quality items that are both valid and reliable may be selected for tests and examinations from item banks. Similarly, high quality performance assessments may be found through the Internet. However, particularly when the source is not within Namibia, care must be taken to ensure that these assessments are linked to your Namibian subject syllabuses. Prior to instruction which will be followed by a formal assessment, learners should be aware of what criteria will be used to assess them. For example, if given a project they should be aware of what parts of the project the teacher will give marks for and be provided with examples of good, average and poor projects. 3.6 Should learners become involved in marking assessments? Learners should not be involved in the marking of selected, graded assessments, i.e. those assessments that contribute towards the final summative continuous assessment mark. However, when it is possible, it is a good idea to allow your learners to become involved in marking assessments. For example, if such marking takes place during a lesson it communicates to the learners your learning expectations and may motivate and focus learner attention and effort. You should, of course, check the marks given by your learners. Continuous assessment becomes instructionally valuable when learners apply the scoring tools for peer and self-evaluation. Such involvement helps learners to internalise the elements of quality embedded in the scoring criteria. 3.7 Should all graded continuous assessments be reviewed with learners? It is very important that you review with your learners all graded continuous assessments. This communicates to the learners your learning expectations and will motivate and focus learner attention and effort. It also allows you to understand when you have not communicated what was expected from the learners. All formal assessments must be reviewed with learners so that they can see the correct answers and so that the teacher may be informed of questions that were unclear to the learners.

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3.8

Why should a teacher use different continuous assessment methods? One assessment method may allow you to better assess a learning objective than another assessment method. Assessing the ability of a learner to complete a lab report is best done by examining the learner's lab report than by giving the learner a multiple-choice test about the lab report or by asking the learner to write a poem about his/her lab report. Also, some learners are able to demonstrate their learning better with one method than with another. Since you want to assess their learning, not just their ability to use a method of assessment, it is best to use more than one assessment method. Table 2 provides several possible links between achievement targets and assessment methods. This table illustrates how some objectives and competencies (Target To Be Assessed) might best be assessed with a given assessment method. Continuous assessment enables us to construct a photo album of assessments containing a variety of assessment pictures taken at different times with different lenses, backgrounds and compositions.

3.9

What should be the format of the form where teachers record continuous assessments? Subject teachers should keep a record book for each subject that they teach. In this book the teacher should record each learner's name, the type of assessment, the date of and the results of each graded continuous assessment. Also the learners behaviour in class should be reported based on a 5-point scale in Grades 1-7 and a 7-point scale in Grades 8-12. Class teachers will have to keep a similar record for the classes they are teaching.

3.10

Should all continuous assessment grades/marks be recorded and taken into consideration for the final summative continuous assessment grade/mark? Only selected graded and recorded grades/marks are considered for the final summative continuous assessment grade/mark. In Grades 1-4 nine recorded selected grades/marks must contribute to the final continuous assessment grade. In grades 510 six recorded selected grades/marks must contribute to the final continuous assessment grade. More continuous assessment grades/marks may be recorded and used to improve learning and/or guide the teaching learning process.

3.11

Is it desirable that the knowledge, skills and understandings which are to be assessed through continuous assessments be specified in the syllabuses?

One of the weaknesses of continuous assessments is that they are generally not comparable across classes, schools, regions and nations. This is because they are created by individual teachers and will therefore be different and have different levels of fairness, reliability and validity. Indeed, they may not even assess the same knowledge, skills and understanding. Graded assessments will become more fair, reliable, valid and comparable if the knowledge, skills and understandings to be assessed

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are specified in the syllabuses. Then all teachers will be able to focus on assessing the same objectives and competencies.

3.12

What should be the format of the record on which teachers report graded continuous assessments to the learner's parents and to education officials? Teachers should continue using their present forms to report continuous assessments to the learner's parents and education officials.

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Table 2. The Various Possible links Between Achievement Targets and Assessment Methods

TARGET TO BE ASSESSED SELECTED RESPONSE KNOWLEDGE MASTERY Multiple-choice, true-false, and fill-in can sample mastery of elements of knowledge Can assess understanding of basic patterns of reasoning

ASSESSMENT METHOD ESSAY PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENT Not a good choice for this target. Three other options preferred Can watch students solve some problems and infer about reasoning proficiency Can observe and evaluate skills as they are being performed PERSONAL COMMUNICATION Can ask questions, evaluate answers and infer mastery, but a timeconsuming option Can ask students to "think aloud" or can ask followup questions to probe reasoning Strong match when skill is oral communication proficiency; also can assess mastery of knowledge prerequisite to skillful performance Can probe procedural knowledge and knowledge of attributes of quality products - but not product quality Can talk with students about their feelings

REASONING PROFICIENCY

SKILLS

Essay exercises can tap understanding of relationships among elements of knowledge Written descriptions of complex problem solutions can provide a window into reasoning proficiency Can assess mastery of the knowledge prerequisites to skilful performance - but cannot rely on these to tap the skill itself

ABILITY TO CREATE PRODUCTS

DISPOSITION

Can assess mastery of knowledge prerequisite to the ability to A strong match can assess: create quality products - but cannot use these to assess the (a) proficiency in carrying quality of products themselves out steps in product development, and (b) attributes of the product itself Open-ended questionnaire Can infer disposition from Selected response items can probe dispositions behaviour and products questionnaire items can tap student feelings

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4.

PREMISES UNDERLYING GOOD CONTINUOUS ASSESSMENTS

Good continuous assessments are based on three premises: (1) (2) (3) the purpose of continuous assessment is to inform teaching and to improve learning while there is still time to do so; sound continuous assessment calls for graded assessments that are based on several methods of assessment; continuous assessments must be valid, reliable and fair.

The following consists of good examples of the use of different continuous assessments used by a teacher who was creating a lesson plan for a topic on weather.

Before you teach, you must plan the learning activities your learners will do, what objectives or outcomes you want the learners to achieve and how you will assess the learners. Planning for assessment means that you know, before you begin to teach, what assessment methods you will use, why you want to use them and when you will use them. It also means that you may provide your learners with the latter information. In this section, we illustrate what is meant by planning for continuous assessment through an example.

Planning a Topic on Weather

Suppose you were going to teach a four-week topic on weather. In your teaching plan you may decide to have four lessons: Lesson 1. Basic concepts and measurements of weather Lesson 2. Different types of weather systems Lesson 3. Weather maps and symbols Lesson 4. Predicting weather using weather maps and measurements.

Planning Learning Outcomes

As you plan for teaching these topics you will identify what outcomes you expect the learners to achieve. For example, in Lesson 1 you may want the learners to know such concepts as weather changes during different times of the year, concepts such as humidity, temperature, precipitation, cloud formations, wind direction and speed and atmospheric pressure. You may also decide that you want them to be able to perform simple weather related measurements such as temperature, wind speed, wind direction and relative humidity. You would think ahead and plan for each lesson and identify what outcomes you expect learners to achieve.

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Planning Teaching Activities

You will think ahead about the learning activities and materials you will need to prepare in addition to identifying learning outcomes. For example, when teaching learners to perform simple weather-related measurements, you will need at least two thermometers because it requires two thermometers (one wet and the other dry) to measure relative humidity. Maybe you do not have a wind speed measuring instrument, but you can have learners observe how the wind affects the local environment and use that to estimate the wind speed. For example, the smoke rising from a fire will drift straight upward if there is zero wind speed, but will bend somewhat when the wind is 5 to 10 kilometers per hour. As another example, you may have learners write definitions of weather terminology in their copy books and use the terms to write a short essay to describe today's and tomorrow's weather. You could also ask them to draw pictures of the different types of cloud formations and to label these pictures. Learners could check the sky every hour all week and keep a record of the types of cloud formations they see. Again, you will think ahead for each lesson and decide how you will teach the outcomes of the lesson, what learning activities you will have the learners do and what materials you will need.

Planning the Assessment of Learners

Your lesson planning is not complete, however. A complete lesson plan must include assessment. You will need to think about the kinds of information you need to have about each learner in order to (1) better plan your teaching, (2) evaluate whether a learner has achieved each of the outcomes you want the learner to achieve and (3) decide whether you need to re-teach some of the material in the lessons because learners did not achieve the desired learning outcomes.

Deciding What Assessment Methods (Types) to Use

You have many choices for gathering this information, just as you have many choices for teaching and learning activities. However, you must use the proper choice for gathering information, just as you must use the proper choice for learning activities. Some teaching activities are more effective for learners to achieve the learning outcomes than are others. Likewise, some assessment procedures are more effective for obtaining the information you need than others. You must plan in order to make the right choices.

Choosing Different Assessment Methods For Different Purposes

Let us think about the example of the topic on weather. You may decide on the following continuous assessment methods to use for different purposes and times during the topic. Continuous assessments 1, 2, 3 and 4 that follow are examples of informal continuous assessments that are not graded nor recorded. Continuous assessment 5 is a formal graded continuous assessment that is not recorded as a part of the summative continuous assessment grade. A teacher might select either continuous assessment 6 or 7 to serve as a formal graded continuous assessment that would be recorded as part of a learner's summative continuous assessment grade.

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1. Oral questioning You may plan to use this technique every day that you teach, no matter what the lesson is. This technique allows you to ask learners about the content you are teaching and establish whether they understand them. You may also use oral questioning to find out whether the learners are confusing some of the concepts. For example, whether they know the difference between temperature and humidity. You use this technique in an informal way, asking learners while you are teaching and interacting with them during the lessons. The information you gather using this technique helps you to guide the learners so that they will master the material. You are using oral questioning for formative continuous assessment.

2. Observing learners Similarly, you may plan to use observation of learners every day that you teach. You may decide that you want to observe learners especially when they are doing class work, when they are using weather maps and when they are taking weather measurements. As you think ahead, you may decide to focus your observations on whether the learners are using weather terminology and map symbols correctly. You may also focus on whether they are taking the measurements correctly. If you discover learners who are experiencing difficulty, you teach them the proper usage of terms, symbols, or measurement tools. You may have to re-teach some of the material based on your observations of the learners. Your observations are informal and you are using them as formative continuous assessment. 3. Pretest As you plan for teaching, you may wonder how much learners know about what you are going to teach before they begin the topic. You may also wonder whether they have some misunderstandings about weather or even some fears about it. To gather this kind of information, you may decide to conduct a pretest about a week before you begin to teach the topic. You would use the information you gather from the pretest to help you plan your teaching of this topic. The pretest could require learners to write their answers or you could decide to have a discussion with the entire class and draw out information from them. You might ask questions such as: (a) Explain what makes rain. Draw a picture if you wish. (b) Imagine you are a radio weather announcer. Give a forecast for what the weather will be like tomorrow. (c) What is a barometer? What is a thermometer? (d) What is your most unusual or scary experience involving the weather? Explain.

Your interest here is not in grading the learners but finding out what the class

knows about the topics so you can build your lessons on it. In other words, this is formative continuous assessment.

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4. Homework is a way for learners to practice what they have studied. It reinforces their learning. However, it is also an opportunity for you to gather information about your class's learning. In planning your assessment for this topic, you may consider how you will review each lesson's homework to identify whether you need to re-teach basic concepts, weather systems, map symbols, or map reading. The purpose here is to determine whether your teaching has been effective with every learner. This assessment helps you to decide whether re-teaching or correcting misunderstandings might be necessary for some or all learners. Thus, you will use homework as a formative continuous assessment technique. 5. Short quizzes [Note that in lower primary the term "quiz" is used to denote a short test which is different from its common use where groups of learners ask each other questions.] You may decide that you will create and administer a short test or quiz to the learners after you complete Lesson 2. Lessons 1 and 2 teach the basic ideas of weather. You may decide that it is important for learners to understand these ideas before going on. Lessons 3 and 4 require learners to apply or use their basic knowledge of weather. This quiz helps you to assess how well each learner has learned the important outcomes you identified and taught for Lessons 1 and 2. It focuses on what you actually taught learners. You may grade each quiz to provide your learners with feedback on their achievement, but you will not record each learner's results from this quiz in your record book. This quiz has been carefully constructed and marked so it is an example of a formal continuous assessment that is graded but not recorded. You should note that if your class does poorly in this quiz, you should re-teach some of the material from Lessons 1 and 2. It is no use proceeding with more advanced lessons if the learners do not have a minimum understanding of the basics. When you review the quiz you identify the specific concepts with which your class is experiencing difficulty. This quiz helps you to focus your re-teaching properly. Either of the following continuous assessments, but not both, might be selected to be a graded and recorded assessment that would become a part of each learner's summative continuous assessment grade. 6. Project The assessments described in 1-5 above focus mostly on learners' ability to recall and comprehend the material they have studied. You may decide that it is also important for learners to use and apply what they learn to the real world. Indeed, Lessons 3 and 4 have real-world applications as their major objectives. You may decide, therefore, to plan to use a project as a way to assess your learners' ability to apply their learning about weather.

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You may want the project to begin after you have finished Lesson 2 and continue to the end of Lesson 4. You should structure the project in such a way that learners do not solely copy from resources. For example, the project may require learners to measure temperature, wind direction and speed, and rainfall every day. Then it may require them to relate these measurements to the weather they have observed. The project requires them to graph the measurements to illustrate any consistency or changes they have observed. It may require them to write a simple report on their findings or to give an oral report. You will need to carefully mark each learner's project. It will be helpful to you if you develop and use a scoring rubric for marking the projects so you can be consistent and fair to all learners. Each learner's project will be graded and recorded and will become part of the summative continuous assessment grade for the term. You also have carefully planned and marked each learner's project. This is a formal continuous assessment. Notice, too, that unlike the quiz, the project helps you to assess a learner's ability to use higher levels of thinking such as using knowledge in a realistic situation, making connections and inferences, and evaluating weather data. 7. End-of-Topic Test After all of the lessons have been taught you may want to do a more comprehensive evaluation of learners. You may create an end-of-topic test that covers all four lessons. You will use the results to help you assign a grade to the learners for the topic. You record the results in your record book and use them as part of the summative continuous assessment grade for the year. Thus, the end-oftopic test is also a formal continuous assessment. Of course, as with the short quizzes in 5 above, if your class does very poorly in this test, you may decide to re-teach some of the material with which they had difficulty and then to re-test the class on this material. If so, then you will have used the test as a formative continuous assessment method, also. You will discover that some assessment procedures can be used for more than one purpose. By reviewing the preceding uses of different continuous assessment methods you can see that you do need to think ahead when planning your teaching in order to properly plan your continuous assessments. This can be best done when you are planning your lessons.

5.

5.1

CONTINUOUS ASSESSMENT AT LOWER PRIMARY LEVEL, GRADES 1 - 4

What continuous assessment methods (types) can be used in Grades 1 - 4? Only informal continuous assessments and no examinations are allowed in this school phase. A distinction can however be made between more structured and less structured informal continuous assessments. See paragraph 5.2.

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Teachers must link their assessments to the syllabus' objectives and competencies. Illustrations of these links using the assessment methods listed in Table 1 will be provided in teachers' guides for the grades in this phase. Teachers should use Table 1 as a guide for selecting approaches and continuous assessment methods. In Grades 1-3 the assessment methods should primarily be oral questioning and observation. Assessment by reading and writing must be implemented progressively as learners acquire the necessary reading and writing skills. Ministry of Basic Education and Culture, Circular No: Form ED 19/97 (1997, pp. 3-4). 5.2 How many continuous assessments should be recorded for the summative continuous assessment grade? The Pilot Curriculum Guide For Formal Basic Education (1996, p. 30) recommends that all assessments at the lower primary level consist of informal continuous assessments. Two kinds of informal assessments exist in the lower primary phase: (1) informal more structured and (2) informal less structured. Nine selected graded informal more structured continuous assessments, at least two per term, should be graded and recorded for this school phase. These nine selected graded informal more structured continuous assessments will contribute to the final continuous assessment grade. Therefore, these nine continuous assessments must be carefully planned and marked according to a marking scheme or memorandum. Informal more structured continuous assessments are meant to require a relatively short administration time. For example, the administration time of a quiz should not exceed the common attention span of the learners. In cases of homework and projects, the learners should be taught to spend time in parts where a single part does not exceed their attention span. Teachers must be careful not to make unrealistic demands on the time of their learners. Evidence of the work produced by good, average and poor learners on the informal more structured continuous assessments as well as a description of the assignment and the marking scheme or test memorandum has to be kept at school until the end of February of the next year. Teachers may choose to grade and/or record more than nine continuous assessments, but only nine may contribute to the final summative continuous assessment grade. These nine selected informal more structured continuous assessments must be identified in the teacher's assessment plan which is to be developed at the beginning of the school year. The informal less structured continuous assessments are usually made on the spur of the moment or casually on selected class learners for the purpose of providing the teacher and the learners with feedback on the effectiveness of the learning process. This is done by determining what some learners know and/or can demonstrate. Informal less structured continuous assessments may or may not be recorded. In the lower primary level the information gathered with less structured continuous assessments is of great importance as immediate feedback to the teacher and learner. It enables them to continuously monitor the mastery of critical literacy and numeracy

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skills and understandings. Done over time, less structured continuous assessment gives the teacher a more all around picture of learners' performance which should compliment the information gathered from the more structured informal continuous assessments. The information gathered using less structured continuous assessments should be emphasised at lower primary level when the promotability of borderline cases is considered at the end of the school year. At the end of each term and for each subject, teachers must determine and record an overall grade based on the less structured continuous assessments of each learner. This grade gives the teacher the opportunity to consider the development of each learner over the school year. However, you should not use your less structured continuous assessment letter grades to punish learners who are misbehaving or not doing what you want them to do. This grade must represent each learner's degree of mastery of the entire year's curriculum. It would not be proper to use the less structured continuous assessment letter grade for some other purpose such as punishment. It is up to the teacher to decide whether he or she wants to record or not record informal less structured continuous assessments. However, the teacher must be able to determine a grade for each learner in each subject at the end of each term based on the informal less structured continuous assessments that he or she has made on each learner. The average of the less structured continuous assessment grade and the grades obtained during the term for the more structured continuous assessments should be reported to parents at the end of each term. This average should determine the learner's final promotion grade. 5.3 What assistance will be provided to teachers regarding continuous assessment at this school level? At each grade at lower primary level a Teachers' Manual on Continuous Assessment will be developed and provided to schools. This manual will cover all subjects in a given grade and will contain examples of good practice. It will also give guidance on how assessment types should be designed, how their matching marking schemes should be developed and how marking should be done and recorded for tests and other assessment tasks. Advisory teachers and school management are also expected to assist teachers with the planning and implementation of continuous assessment.

6.

CONTINUOUS ASSESSMENT AT UPPER PRIMARY LEVEL AND AT JUNIOR SECONDARY LEVEL, GRADES 5 - 10

What continuous assessment methods (types) can be used in Grades 5 - 10? Both informal and formal continuous assessments and end-of-year examinations must be used in these school phases. The end-of-year examination does not contribute to the summative continuous assessment mark.

6.1

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Teachers must strive to link their assessments to the syllabus' objectives and competencies. Illustrations of these links using the assessment methods listed in Table 1 will be provided in a teachers' guide for the subjects in each of these phases. Teachers should use Table 1 as a guide for selecting approaches and continuous assessment methods. The achievement of learning objectives and competencies is very important and can be achieved using continuous assessment methods that require learner participation (teamwork), written assignments, oral assignments and project work. 6.2 How will continuous assessment and the internal or external examinations complement each other? Both continuous assessments and end-of-year examinations assess objectives and competencies specified in the subject syllabuses. All of the learning objectives and competencies assessed by the end-of-year examination should have been assessed during the school year using formal and/or informal continuous assessments. These continuous assessments, therefore, should help learners to attain better grades in their examinations. They should also give candidates an idea of the grade they could expect in their examination, unless they make an extra effort for the examination. Continuous assessments provide information that allows for remedial action and corrective measures during the school year. This is not the case for the end-of-year examination. Formal continuous assessment grades also contribute to the final promotion grade enabling learners to use their work done during the school year for promotion. 6.3 Will the assessment objectives (knowledge, skills, understandings, processes, etc.) for formal continuous assessment be specified in the syllabuses? Assessment objectives applicable to formal continuous assessments will be specified for Grades 5-10. 6.4 How many formal (selected graded and recorded) continuous assessments will contribute to the final continuous assessment promotion grade per subject? Six formal continuous assessments, at least one per term, should be selected graded and recorded for these school phases. These continuous assessments must be carefully planned and marked according to a marking scheme or memorandum. Evidence of the work produced by good, average and poor candidates as well as the written assignment and marking scheme has to be kept at school until the end of February of the next year. Teachers may choose to grade and/or record more than six continuous assessments, but only six may contribute to the final summative continuous assessment grade that (along with the examination grade) will contribute to the final promotion grade. These six formal continuous assessments must be identified in the teacher's assessment plan which is to be developed at the beginning of the school year. 6.5 What should be the weight contribution of the various continuous assessment tasks towards the final continuous assessment mark?

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Of the various types of continuous assessment to be used by teachers, not more than forty percent (40%) of the final continuous assessment mark should be based on tests. Other assessment methods (see Table 1) should be used to make up the remaining percentage. 6.6 What should be the weight contribution of continuous assessment towards the final promotion grade? In Grades 5-7, fifty percent (50%) of the final promotion grade should be based on the continuous assessment mark and fifty percent (50%) should be based on the examination mark. In Grades 8-10, no less than thirty-three percent (33%) and no more than fifty percent (50%) of the final promotion grade should be based on the continuous assessment mark. The remaining percentage should be based on the examination mark. The subject syllabus will specify the weighting of the summative continuous assessment mark and end-of-year examination mark for each subject. 6.7 What continuous assessment marks (grades) should be recorded? All six formal continuous assessments should be recorded. Other continuous assessment tasks may be graded and recorded to inform the teacher and the learner but may not count towards the final promotion grade. 6.8 What assistance will be provided to teachers regarding continuous assessment? For each subject at the upper primary and junior secondary phases a Teachers Manual on Continuous Assessment will be developed and provided to schools. This manual will contain examples of good practice. It will also give guidance on how assessment tasks should be designed, how their matching marking schemes and memorandums should be developed and how marking should be done and recorded. Advisory teachers and school management are also expected to assist teachers with the planning and implementation of continuous assessment.

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7.

CONTINUOUS ASSESSMENT (ALSO REFERRED TO AS COURSE WORK; SCHOOL-BASED WORK) AT SENIOR SECONDARY LEVEL, GRADES 11-12

What continuous assessment methods (types) can be used in Grades 11-12? Both formal and informal continuous assessments must be done. End of year examinations are not to contribute to the final school-based assessment mark. Only formal continuous assessments contribute to the final continuous assessment mark. At IGCSE and HIGCSE level the formal continuous assessments refer to any assessment component specified by any (H)IGCSE syllabus which is assessed at school level. These formal continuous assessments are collectively known as either course work, school-based assessments or oral assessments as applicable to the subject concerned. When considering a method (type) of assessment to be used, the most important criterion should be: What is the best way to assess whether the learning objectives specified in the syllabuses have been achieved? In some of the syllabuses the method (type) of assessment is specified, e.g., oral assessments for languages, laboratory work for the natural sciences, photography for art and a project for computer studies. Table 1, however, may be helpful in selecting a method (type) of assessment in cases where a method of assessment is not specified in the syllabus.

7.1

7.2

What is the relation between formal continuous assessments and examinations? Both school-based assessments and end-of-year examinations assess the knowledge, skills and understandings specified in the subject syllabuses. All of the learning objectives assessed by the end-of-year examination should have been assessed during the school year using formal and/or informal continuous assessments. These continuous assessments, therefore, should help learners to attain better grades in their external examinations. It should also give candidates an idea of the grade they could expect in their examination, unless they make an extra effort for the examination. Continuous assessments provide information that allows for remedial action and corrective measures during the school year which is not the case with end of year examinations. Formal continuous assessment grades also contribute to the final promotion grade enabling learners to use their work done during the year to improve their final end-of-year grades. The same principles regarding continuous assessment and examinations will apply for both Grades 11 and 12. The Grade 11 examination however will be an internal, and still formative, examination. The Grade 11 examination is still formative because it provides learners with information on the level at which they might enter to be tested in the Grade 12 end-of-year examination. The Grade 12 examination will be external and final.

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7.3

Will the assessment objectives for formal continuous assessments (Course Work; School-Based Assessments; Orals) be specified in the syllabuses? The IGCSE and HIGCSE subjects may be divided into the following three categories: (1) subjects where formal continuous assessment is compulsory, (2) subjects where formal continuous assessment is available but not compulsory and (3) subjects where formal continuous assessment is not available, i.e., mathematics, accounting, etc. For the subjects where continuous assessment is available, the knowledge, skills and understandings to be assessed as course work at school level are clearly specified in the syllabuses together with criteria and guidelines on how the assessments should be conducted. For the subjects where continuous assessment is available but not compulsory, an examination paper which assesses the same knowledge, skills and understandings is available as an alternative. For the subjects where school-based work is not available, no learning objectives are specified for school-based assessment and only external examinations determine the final grade. Namibian schools are only permitted to implement course work, school-based work, etc. in those subjects where the teachers are trained and accredited with the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES) to design and do the assessment.

7.4

What is the weight contribution of Course Work, School-Based Assessments, etc. towards the final promotion grade? The weight contribution of school-based work to the end of course grade is specified in the various subject syllabuses and in the Booklet, Syllabus Synopses for Centres in Namibia. These documents are issued by UCLES on an annual basis. The weight contribution of continuous assessment, varies between 20% - 50% in those subjects where it is available. For the majority of subjects, however, the weight contribution varies between 20% - 30%. For subjects with a practical orientation, i.e., art and design, music, etc., the weight contribution tends to be around 50%.

7.5

What assistance will be provided to teachers regarding continuous assessment? Teachers who are to design and assess IGCSE and HIGCSE school-based work must be accredited with UCLES. Accreditation takes place when teachers have obtained the necessary knowledge and skills through training or through relevant experience.

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Subject syllabuses, the booklet: HIGCSE AND IGCSE GENERAL COURSE WORK REGULATIONS and circulars issued by the Directorate National Examinations and Assessment (DNEA) contain important information and assistance. 7.6 How will marks be recorded and moderated? Most of the IGCSE and HIGCSE subjects with school-based assessment components are to be assessed at school-level and the marks recorded on the Individual Candidate Record Cards and Course Work or Oral Assessment Summary Forms. These marks are externally moderated in addition to the internal or school level moderation which is expected in cases where more than one teacher is doing the assessment. Internal moderation is essential for a uniform standard at school level while external moderation ensures a uniform standard at the national level. In a few subjects, the school-based work is done at school level, but the assessment and moderation are done externally. In such cases the school-based work will be sent to the external examining body.

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8.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Barcikowski, R. S. (1997). Understanding continuous assessment through examples: A guide for lower primary Namibian teachers (Grades 1-4). Okahandja, Namibia: National Institute for Educational Development. Lloyd-Jones, R. L., Bray, E., Johnson, G. & Cirrie, R. (1986). Assessment from principles to action. London, Routledge. McTighe, J. & Ferrara, S. (1994). Performance-based assessment in the classroom. Pennsylvania Educational Leadership, 4-16. Ministry of Basic Education and Culture (1996). Pilot curriculum guide for formal basic education. Windhoek, Namibia. Ministry of Basic Education and Culture, Circular No.: Form ED 19/97. (1997). Requirements for promotion in 1998, Grades 1-9 & 11. Windhoek, Namibia. National Institute for Educational Development (NIED) (1996). Education Support Project's teacher guide. Okahandja, Namibia. Basic

Nitko, A. J. (1996). Educational assessment of students (2nd edition). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall/Merrill Education. Ogunniyi, M. B. (1991). Educational measurement and evaluation (2nd edition). Singapore: Longman. Oosterhof, A. (1990). Classroom applications of educational measurement. Columbus, OH: Merrill Publishing Company.

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9.

GLOSSARY

Assessment of learners: is the process of gathering information about how learners are progressing in their learning. It gathers information about what learners know and can demonstrate as a result of their learning processes. Assessment Approach: a generic term used to describe various groups of assessment methods (types). Examples of assessment approaches are: selected response items, constructed responses, products, performances and process-focused. See paragraph 2.1.1 and Table 1. Assessment Method: is the manner in which an assessment approach is to be done. For example, the assessment approach constructed responses may be done using the assessment methods: fill in the blank, short answer, label a diagram, etc.. See paragraph 2.1.1 and Table 1. (The terms assessment method and assessment type are used interchangeably.) Basic Competency: what a learner should know and be able to do as the outcome of teaching and learning. (The terms Basic Competency and Competency are used interchangeably.) Constructed response assessment1: a performance-based assessment approach that asks learners to generate brief responses to open-ended questions, problems, or prompts. Short written answers and visual representations (e.g., flow chart, graph) are widely used constructed response assessment methods that are examples of this approach. See Table 1. Continuous assessment: is assessment (both formal and informal) that is done on a regular and continuous basis. Continuous assessment is meant to be integrated with teaching in order to improve learning and to help shape and direct the teaching-learning process. The assessment is continuous because: (1) it occurs at various times as a part of instruction, (2) may occur following a lesson, (3) usually occurs following a topic, and (4) frequently occurs following a theme. Evaluation of learners: is the process of making a judgment about the quality of a learner's performance using the information gathered during an assessment. Examination: a formal assessment given at the end of the year in Grades 5-10 that is comprehensive relative to the competencies covered in that year. Examinations are not continuous assessments. External examination: an examination that is created by people outside of the school in which the learners are taught. Examples of external examinations are those based on the Junior Secondary Certificate Examination (made-up by Namibians) and the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE), made-up by the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate, Cambridge, England). an assessment that is crafted with special Formal continuous assessment: thoughtfulness and care for use in Grades five through ten and: (1) is valid and reliable, (2) is made on all class learners, (3) provides the learners with feedback on what they have learned, (4) enables the teacher to assign a letter grade to each learner.

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Formative continuous assessment: any assessment made during the school year that is meant to improve learning and to help shape and direct the teaching-learning process. In this sense all continuous assessments are formative. Informal continuous assessment: informal continuous assessment consists of two types: (1) a type usually used in the lower primary (Grades 1-4) to assign letter grades, referred to as informal more structured continuous assessment and (2) a type used in all Grades to provide the teacher and the learners with feedback on the effectiveness of the learning process, referred to as informal less structured continuous assessment. Informal less structured continuous assessment: an assessment that is usually made on the spur of the moment or casually on selected class learners with the purpose of providing the teacher and the learners with feedback on the effectiveness of the learning process by determining what some learners know and/or can demonstrate. This type of assessment may or may not be recorded. Informal more structured continuous assessment: an assessment that is crafted for lower primary learners (Grades 1-4) and therefore requires a relatively short administration time, e.g., the administration time should not exceed the common attention span of the learners, and: (1) is valid and reliable, (2) is made on all class learners, (3) provides the learners with feedback on what they have learned, (4) enables the teacher to record the learner's achievement, usually in the form of a letter grade. Instruction: what teachers do to encourage learning.

Internal examination: an examination that is created by the learners' teacher or by a group of teachers who are familiar with the material actually taught to the learners.

Lesson: instruction that occurs as a part of a learner mastering one or more competencies. Performance assessment1: a performance-based assessment approach that require learners to perform. Examples of performance assessment methods are: oral presentation, science lab demonstration, debate or musical recital. See Table 1. Performance-based-assessment1: a generic name applied to assessment approaches which involve activities that directly assess learners' understanding and proficiency. These assessment approaches allow learners to construct a response, create a product, or perform a demonstration to show what they understand and can do. Examples of performance-based-assessment approaches include: (1) constructed responses, (2) products, (3) performances, and (4) process focused assessments. See Table 1. Process-focused assessment1: a performance-based assessment approach that provides information on learners' learning strategies and thinking processes. Rather than focus on tangible responses, products, and performances, this approach seeks to gain insights into the underlying cognitive processes used by learners. Example assessment methods for this approach include oral questioning, observation, and interviews. See Table 1. Product assessment1: a performance-based-assessment approach that requires learners to provide a product. An example product may be: (1) written (e.g., essays), (2) visual

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(e.g., displays, 2- and 3-dimensional models), or aural (e.g., an audiotape of an oral presentation). See Table 1. Promotion Mark: the end-of-year letter grade in a given subject. Quiz: a formal or informal assessment that is limited to the competencies covered in one lesson, topic, or theme. A quiz usually has fewer items than a test and as an informal more structured assessment may be used at the lower primary level. (The term quiz is also used to mean a classroom game or competition, usually between teams of learners, where points are awarded for correct answers to questions.) Reliability: the degree to which assessment results are consistent. For example, the marks from an assessment are consistent when a learner receives nearly the same mark on a set of questions on a topic today as he or she received on the same set of questions five days earlier. Selected graded continuous assessment: a recorded assessment that contributes to the summative continuous assessment promotion grade in each subject. The selected graded continuous assessments are planned and selected at the beginning of the school year. In the lower primary level, Grades 1-4, there are nine selected graded continuous assessments with at least two per term. In the upper primary and the lower secondary levels, Grades 5-10, there are six selected graded continuous assessments with at least one per term. Selected response items1: an assessment approach that require learners to select from given item alternatives. These items are frequently found on examinations, tests, and quizzes. Examples of selected response items are: (1) multiple-choice, (2) true-false, and (3) matching. See Table 1. Summative assessment: an assessment made at the end of the school year based on the cumulation of the progress and achievements of the learner throughout the year in a given subject. The result of this assessment is an end-of year letter grade. In Grades 1-4 the summative assessment is made up of only the sum of informal continuous assessments. In Grades 5-10 the summative assessment is made up of both the sum of the formal continuous assessments and the end-of-year examination combined according to prespecified percentages. Test: a formal assessment that is limited to the competencies covered in one lesson, topic, or theme. Theme: a set of topics. Topic: a set of lessons after which a learner is expected to have mastered one or more competencies. Validity: the degree to which an assessment actually assesses what learners have learned in the course of their learning processes.

1These

definitions were paraphrased from: McTighe, J. & Ferrara, S. (1994). Performance-based assessment in the classroom. Pennsylvania Educational Leadership, 4-16.

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ADDENDUM Definitions of Continuous Assessment Methods multiple-choice a selected response item continuous assessment method that presents a learner with a statement of a problem or with a direct question, followed by two or more choices for possible answers to the problem or question, only one of which is the correct or best answer. The statement presented to the learner is called the stem. The choices are called options or alternatives. true-false a selected response item continuous assessment method that consists of a statement or proposition that a learner must judge and mark as either true or false. matching a selected response item continuous assessment method that presents the learner with three things: (1) directions for matching, (2) a list of premises, and (3) a list of responses. The learner must match each premise with a response. It is generally recommended that you have more responses than premises or more premises that responses. It is not recommended that you have an equal number of premises and responses. fill in the blank a constructed response continuous assessment method that requires a learner to complete each item using a word, short phrase, number of symbol. short answer a constructed response continuous assessment method that requires a learner to respond to each item with a complete sentence or paragraph. label a diagram a constructed response continuous assessment method that requires a learner to respond by identifying with a label parts of a diagram. "show your work" a constructed response continuous assessment method that requires a learner to give an answer to a question and to show how that answer was attained. web a constructed response continuous assessment method that requires a learner to provide a visual representation of the links between a class or category of things (objects, people, events, or relations). concept map a constructed response continuous assessment method that is a web where the links between things are explained with phrases or sentences. flow chart a constructed response continuous assessment method that requires the learner to provide a visual schematic representation of a sequence of operations. graph/table a constructed response continuous assessment method that requires the learner to provide a visual representation of numerical relationships. matrix a constructed response continuous assessment method that is a type of matching exercise. Elements from several lists of responses (e.g., presidents, political parties, famous firsts, important events) are matched with elements from a common list of premises. The learner is to select one or more elements from each response list and match the elements with one of the numbered premises.

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illustration a constructed response continuous assessment method where a learner uses a visual representation to clarify or explain things (objects, people, events, or relations). essay a product continuous assessment which requires a learner to produce a short literary composition on a single subject, usually presenting the personal view of the learner. research report a product continuous assessment which is based on the written results of a learnerÕs scholarly or scientific investigation or inquiry. log/journal a product continuous assessment which requires a learner to produce a record of his or her performance. lab report a product continuous assessment which requires a learner to produce a written summary of work the learner has performed in scientific experimentation or research. story/play a product continuous assessment which requires a learner to write a theatrical work. poem a product continuous assessment which requires a learner to write a composition in verse rather than in prose. portfolio a product continuous assessment which requires a learner to collect a limited selection of the learner's work that is used to either present the learner's best work(s) or demonstrate the learner's educational growth over a given time span. art exhibit a product continuous assessment which requires a learner to but into public view the learner's art. science project a product continuous assessment which requires a learner to plan, carry out, and present a science research undertaking. model a product continuous assessment which requires a learner to prepare a small object, usually built to scale, that represents another, often larger object. video/audiotape a product continuous assessment which requires a learner to produce a video and/or audio filmed, taped or televised presentation. spread sheet a product continuous assessment which requires a learner to prepare and analyze data. oral presentation a performance continuous assessment which requires a learner to use his or her oral skills to verbalize their knowledge. dance/movement a performance continuous assessment which requires a learner to move rhythmically to music, using prescribed or improvised steps and gestures. athletic competition a performance continuous assessment which requires a learner to take part in competitive sports. dramatic reading a performance continuous assessment which requires a learner to combine verbalizations, oral and elocution skills in reading a theatrical passage.

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enactment a performance continuous assessment which requires a learner to act out. For example, learners may dramatize their understanding of fictional characters or historical persons by acting a role showing ideological positions and personal characteristics of these persons. debate a performance continuous assessment which pits one learner, or team of learners, against another learner, or team of learners, to logically argue issues. musical recital a performance continuous assessment which requires a learner to perform music in public. oral questioning a process focused continuous assessment which requires a learner to respond to questions. observation a process focused continuous assessment which is usually informal where the teacher gathers information watching learners interacting, conversing, working, playing, etc. It is usually used in the lower primary level as an informal less structured assessment to provide feedback on achievement to the teacher and the learner. interview a process focused continuous assessment where a learner is expected to respond to questions concerning his or her qualifications. conference a process focused continuous assessment which requires a learner to meet with the teacher and/or other learners for the purpose of exchanging views. process description a process focused continuous assessment which requires a learner to talk through a process. For example, a learner may describe the process he or she uses in subtracting two numbers. It is usually used in the lower primary level as an informal less structured assessment to provide feedback on achievement to the teacher and the learner. "think aloud" a process focused continuous assessment which requires a learner to discuss what he or she is thinking about in trying to solve a problem. It is usually used in the lower primary level as an informal less structured assessment to provide feedback on achievement to the teacher and the learner. learning log a process focused continuous assessment that is based on a learner's written log of what they have learned in a lesson, topic or theme. It is usually used in the lower primary level as an informal less structured assessment to provide feedback on achievement to the teacher and the learner.

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