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First READ Global Conference: Developing a Vision for Assessment Systems September, 30 ­ October 2, 2009




Reporting examination results is one of the few opportunities that policymakers have to converse with teachers and the broader education community about the substance of education. However, discussions among educators tend to focus on the peripherals of teaching and learning such as:funding, construction, salaries, resources and other factors unrelated to teaching. Although these issues are essential to operating an educational system, they are not the core.



The core is teaching and learning. Reporting examination results allows policymakers to focus public attention on what children are learning and what it is that facilitates or hinders their learning. If a testing system is designed and implemented properly, test results can provide policymakers with solid, reliable and regular evidence of what is and what is not working in schools.


·Policymakers can use this information to make informed and sound decisions about the education system.

Promoting Dialogue

·Examination results should be reported and disseminated to spur discussion and action ­ not to blame or accuse. ·The results should be viewed by all relevant groups and individuals as data useful for highlighting strengths and weaknesses and as a tool for solving problems. ·The Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) reports examination results in a way that helps teachers solve instructional problems.

·KNEC publishes the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) Examination Newsletters which provide suggestions to help teachers improve on instruction. ·This method exemplifies the notion of a dialogue with teachers about ­ teaching and learning. ·These two newsletters target questions that candidates find difficult as evidenced by their performance in such questions for discussion.

·The discussions in these reports hinge on how the teachers should have handled the topic tested to enhance candidates' performance. The reports point out the weaknesses portrayed by the candidates. The examples given below serve to explain this point.

Example 1 Question 4: from the year 2002 KCPE Examination Newsletter was found difficult by candidates and its discussion quoted from the Newsletter is as shown below:The facility index of this question 4 was 0.28989 (i.e 28.89% of the total candidature 540,069 scored it correct) and thus too low and hence the reason why the question needed to be discussed in the newsletter. Candidates were supposed to "Fill in the blanks spaces in the passage (part of it) using the best answer from the choices given." That is:"Drug abuse can be 1 as a result the use of a drug to the point where the users health is affected 2 where it becomes difficult for the user to live 3 responsible life. It is 4 recognized that drug abuse 5 young people ...." Question 4 (Choices) A. Now B. therefore





Response Pattern

Option % Choosing option A* 28.89 B 44.49 C 20.61 D 5.29

Mean Mark in other Questions





In this question, candidates were expected not only to determine the grammatical correctness of the work or structure given but also to select the best in the context given. The work ,,recognized' signals both a realization and indeed a new development.

·In the KCPE Newsletter the best and the poorest candidates compositions are published to help the teachers see the structure of such compositions and improve their teaching.

·The Newsletter further gives several other compositions work different marks between the weakest and the strongest candidates for teachers to see the variety of compositions from the cohort.

·This kind of information assists teachers to improve their teaching and at the same time dialogue is open between teachers, KNEC subject specialists and the public as a whole in matters that touch on effectiveness of teaching and learning of the particular subject.

Sharing Responsibility

Kenya has many stakeholders involved in creating and maintaining an effective education system. The reports can help the following groups make critical decisions: ·Teachers and principals ·Curriculum developers ·School inspectors and education officers ·Test developers ·Parents and Policy makers

·The year 2000 KCSE Examination results indicated a dismal performance for girls as compared to boys. Out of the 33 subjects offered in this examination girls performed better than boys in only five (5) subjects.

·These subjects were English, Kiswahili, Home Science, Music and Typewriting and Office Practice, further to this, the same results indicated a comparatively poor performance for girls in Mathematics and Science subjects and under enrollment of girls in Physics as shown in the Table 1.

Table 1: Performance in 2000 KCSE Mathematics and Science Examinations By Gender

Subject Number Sat Female Mathematics Biology 84,013 49,757 Male 97,967 59,718 Mean Performance Female 13.42% 30.23% Male 18.67% 33.6%


Chemistry Physical Science

11,276 28,516

50,442 32,294 64,883 30,847

29.48% 32.74%

27.72% 18.27% 31.76% 21.23%

This information spurred a national debate which culminated in two government policy decisions: ·The Kenya Government lowered the university entry cut off points by one (1) for girls as compared to that of boys; ·The government ordered research to investigate the causes of this scenario and at the same time recommend intervention strategies to improve enrollment and performance of girls in Science and Mathematics.

Table 2: Candidates' Performance Subjects for Year 2003 by Gender

Subject Code & Name





Female No. Sat Mean % 95,620 91,108 16,094 92,615 9,323 13 5 11 39 32.83 27.23 29.07 24.04 53.93 50.61 50.40 43.81 39.35

Male No. Sat 110,809 95,295 40,403 106,132 551 1,188 359 716 1,525 Mean % 32.46 31.35 32.28 29.30 49.05 47.66 55.98 50.94 52.77

101 121 231 232 233 441 444 445 446 450 449


Mathematics (compulsory)

Biology (optional) Physics (optional) Chemistry (optional) Home Science (optional) Woodwork (optional) Metalwork (optional) Building Construction (optional)

95,615 16.05

110,865 22.10

Aviation Tech. (optional)

Drawing and Design (optional)

1 67.00

32 68.68

Researchers could use such results to investigate several aspects of the education sector eg. factors associated with:·Poor candidates performance in Mathematics and Sciences as compared to the other subjects;

·Using test results, researchers can identify which schools and classrooms to observe to find the subtle factors that may help or hinder student learning.

TAILORING REPORTS TO THE RELEVANT AUDIENCE ·When the KCSE examination results are released, performance indices of all secondary schools are provided ·Currently there are about 5,500 secondary schools in Kenya ·This information is given in the four categories of secondary schools in Kenya: ·National Schools (18) ·Provincial schools (1,020) ·District (3,762) ·Private (700) schools

·The performance index and ranking of the schools always spur national debate and policymakers take keen interest to find out why a school has performed poorly.

·These orders of merit are made to spur debate on the issue of accountability and efficiency. In the year 2000 for example one of the National Schools (*Garbatula) performed very poorly due top lack of adequate facilities (see table below).

·The school was downgraded to a district school until facilities are upgraded to the level of a National School by the Government.


Position Name Performance Index 10.2475 10.8967 9.2222 8.6598 Performance Index by Grade B+ B B B

Starehe B. Centre & School Alliance High School Alliance Girls H. School Kenya High School

Moi Forces A. Lanet Maseno School Nakuru High School Utumishi Academy Limuru Girls School *Garbatula High School

8.1590 7.9644 7.7381 7.5887 7.4246 3.5806




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