CAPS Assessment

Why is assessment critical in South African schools?

Assessment is a process of collecting, analysing and interpreting information to assist teachers, parents and other stakeholders in making decisions about learners’ progress. Classroom assessment should indicate learner achievement most effectively and efficiently by ensuring that adequate evidence is collected using various assessment forms. 

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caps national assessment policy

Different types of assessments

Classroom assessment should be both informal and formal. In both cases, learners must know what knowledge and skills are being assessed, and feedback should be provided to learners after assessment to enhance the learning experience.

Informal or daily assessment is the monitoring and enhancing of learners’ progress. This type of assessment occurs through teacher observation and teacher-learner interactions, which either teachers or learners may initiate. Informal may be as simple as stopping during the lesson to observe learners or discuss how learning progresses. Teachers should use informal assessment to provide feedback to the learners and teachers, close the gaps in learners’ knowledge and skills and improve teaching. The informal assessment builds towards formal assessment, and teachers should not only focus on the formal assessment.

A formal assessment provides teachers with a systematic way of evaluating how well learners progress in a particular subject and a grade. Teachers must ensure that assessment criteria are evident to the learners before the assessment process. This involves the teacher explaining to the learners which knowledge and skills are being assessed and the required responses. Feedback should be provided to the learners after assessment and could take the form of a whole-class discussion or teacher-learner interaction.

Examples of formal assessments include projects, oral presentations, demonstrations, performances, tests, examinations and practical demonstrations.

The forms of assessment used should be appropriate to the age and the developmental level of the learners in the phase. The assessment tasks should be carefully designed to cover the content of the subject. Therefore, the design of these tasks should ensure that various skills are assessed as contemplated in Chapter 4 of the different Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements.

Teachers should include the recorded formal assessment marks n the final School-Based Assessment mark for progression (Grades 1-8) and promotion (Grades 9-12) purposes. This means that those tasks used for formal assessment are recorded and used to decide whether a learner should progress or be promoted to the next grade.

Teachers are required to record learner performance in all formal assessment tasks. They are not required to register performance in informal or daily assessment tasks. Teachers may, however, choose to record performance in everyday assessment tasks in some cases to support the teaching and learning process.

The teacher must submit the annual formal programme of assessment to the School Management Team (SMT) before the school year. This will be used to draw up a school assessment plan in each grade. The school assessment plan should be provided to learners and parents in the first week of the first term.

How is formal assessment structured?

Assessment in the National Curriculum Statement Grades R – 12 comprises School-Based Assessment and Practical Assessment Tasks for certain subjects offered in the Further Education and Training Phase and a final end-of-year examination.

School-Based Assessment, Practical Assessment Tasks and end-of-year examinations are designed to address the content competencies, skills, values and attitudes of the subject and to provide learners, parents and teachers with results that are meaningful indications of what the learners know, understand and can do at the time of the assessment.

School-Based Assessment and Practical Assessment Tasks allow learners to be assessed regularly during the school year and assess skills that cannot be evaluated in a written format, e.g. test or examination. School-Based Assessment and Practical Assessment Tasks include various assessment methods as contemplated in Chapter 4 of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements.

The purpose of an end-of-year examination is to provide reliable, valid and fair measures of learners’ achievements in the subjects offered from Grade 4 onwards.

School-Based Assessment

School-Based Assessment is a compulsory component for progression and promotion in all the different school phases. The School-Based Assessment component is as follows in different school phases – in Foundation Phase it is worth 100% of the learner’s mark, in Intermediate Phase it is 75%, Senior Phase 50% and FET 25%.

Moderation should ensure that the quality and standard of the School-Based Assessment, as contemplated in Chapter 4 of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements, have been met from Grade 4 onwards. In Grade 12, School-Based Assessment must be moderated by the Department of Basic Education, the accredited assessment body, and Umalusi.

Practical Assessment Task

A Practical Assessment Task mark is a compulsory component of the final promotion mark for all candidates registered for the following National Senior Certificate subjects:

  • Agricultural Management Practices and Agricultural Technology;
  • Dance Studies, Design, Dramatic Arts, Music and Visual Arts;
  • Languages: Oral mark;
  • Technology: Civil Technology, Electrical Technology, Mechanical Technology and Engineering Graphics and Design;
  • Life Orientation;
  • Computer Sciences: Computer Applications Technology and Information Technology; and
  • Consumer Studies, Hospitality Studies and Tourism.

The Practical Assessment Tasks mark must count 25% of the end-of-year examination mark. The composition of the Practical Assessment Tasks of all subjects listed in subparagraph (1) is outlined in Chapter 4 of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements.

Moderation should ensure that the quality and standard of the Practical Assessment Tasks, as contemplated in Chapter 4 of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements, have been met. In Grade 12, Practical Assessment Tasks must be moderated by experts in each subject and quality assured by Umalusi.

How to Mark School-based Assessments and Practical Assessment Tasks

Both School-Based Assessment and the Practical Assessment Task components must:

  • comprise assessment tasks that constitute the learners’ School-Based Assessment and Practical Assessment mark as contemplated in Chapter 4 of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements;
  • include a mark awarded for each assessment task and a consolidated mark;
  • be guided by assessment components as specified for each subject in Chapter 4 of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy
  • Statements as contemplated in Chapter 4 of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements;
  • be available for monitoring and moderation; and
  • be evaluated, checked and authenticated by the teacher before being presented as the learner’s evidence of performance.

The teacher file with assessment tasks must:

  • be a complete record of assessment in that particular subject;
  • be maintained by the teacher for every subject taught in respect of the National Curriculum Statement Grades R – 12; and
  • be available for monitoring and moderation purposes at every level.

Failure by the teacher to maintain a file with assessment tasks constitutes an act of misconduct. It will be dealt with in terms of paragraph 5(3) of the policy document, National policy on the conduct, administration and management of the National Senior Certificate: A qualification at Level 4 on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), or other appropriate measures.

The absence of a School-Based Assessment or a Practical/Oral Assessment Task mark in any subject in Grades 10- 12, without a valid reason, will result in the learner being deregistered for that particular subject. The learner will be given three weeks before the commencement of the final end-of-year examination of the relevant grade to submit outstanding work or present themself for School-Based Assessment or a Practical/Oral Assessment Task mark. Should the learner fail to fulfil the outstanding School-Based Assessment or a Practical/Oral Assessment Task requirements, such a learner will be awarded zero (“0”) for the School-Based Assessment or a Practical/Oral Assessment Task component for that subject.

End of Year Exam

In the Intermediate Phase (Grades 4-6), Senior Phase (Grades 7-9) and the Further Education and Training Phase (Grades 10-11), learners must be examined in the end-of-year examination in the required number of subjects as stipulated in paragraphs 14(2), 21(1) and 29(1) in the policy document, National policy about the programme and promotion requirements of the National Curriculum Statement Grades R – 12.

Schools must ensure that learners have complied with the School-Based Assessment, Practical Assessment Tasks, and Oral assessment requirements as stipulated in Chapter 4 of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements.

Examination question papers must be set in the Languages of Learning and Teaching (LoLT). Unless otherwise directed in the examination question paper, learners must answer all the Language of Learning and Teaching (LoLT) questions applicable to the learner.

How to record and report learner performance

The recording is a process in which the teacher documents the level of a learner’s performance. In South African schools, this should indicate the progress towards the achievement as stipulated in the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements of all subjects listed in the National Curriculum Statement Grades R – 12. Records of learner performance should provide evidence of the learner’s conceptual progression within a grade and their readiness to progress to the next phase.

Records of learner performance should also be used to verify the progress made by teachers and learners in the teaching and learning process. Records should be used to monitor learning and to plan.

Reporting is a process of communicating learner performance to learners, parents, schools and other stakeholders such as employers and tertiary institutions. Learner performance can be reported in several ways. These include report cards, parents’ meetings, school visitation days, parent-teacher conferences, phone calls, letters, and class or school newsletters.

The primary purpose of reporting is to:

  • provide learners with regular feedback; this feedback should be developmental;
  • inform parents/guardians on the progress of the individual learner; and
  • give information to schools and districts or regional offices on the current level of performance of learners.

Recorded information should:

  • inform teachers and others about the performance of learners;
  • be used to provide constructive feedback to learners about their progress;
  • be used to give feedback on the performance of learners to parents and other role-players;
  • inform the planning of teaching and learning activities; and
  • inform intervention strategies.

The language in which recording and reporting are done should be following the Language of Learning and Teaching (LoLT) as informed by the Language-in-Education Policy of 1997. In dual-medium schools, one of the languages used as LoLT should be utilised for reporting purposes, while the language of the recording should be any of the languages used for learning and teaching.

Fundamental principles of reporting and recording

The following principles underpin the approach to both recording and reporting:

  • Recording learner performance against the assessment task and reporting is against the total mark obtained in all assignments completed in a term. The promotion of a learner is based on the composite marks obtained in all four terms.
  • Teachers should show in their files that they have covered all the formal tasks set.
  • Achievement rating on a report card should be indicated by a combination of national codes, percentages and comments.

The following applies to recording and reporting per phase:

  • Foundation Phase (Grades R – 3): Record and report national codes and their achievement descriptions.
  • Intermediate Phase (Grades 4 – 6): Record and report in national codes and their achievement descriptions and percentages
  • Senior Phase (Grades 7 – 9): Record and report using national codes and their achievement descriptions and percentages.
  • FET (Grades 10 – 12): Record in marks and report in percentages.

The schedule and the report card should indicate the overall level of performance of a learner. In the case of Languageseach language that the learner offers should be recorded and reported separately according to the different levels on which they are offered. For example, Home Language – English, First Additional Language – IsiXhosa, Second Additional Language – Afrikaans Second Additional Language.

The number of formal assessment tasks to be recorded in each phase is provided in Chapter 4 of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements. The recorded pieces of evidence should reflect a variety of forms of assessment. More information on this is provided in Chapter 4 of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements.

Teachers must regularly report to learners and parents on the progress of learners. Schools are required to provide feedback to parents on the programme of assessment using a standard reporting tool such as a report card. In addition to the report cards, other reporting mechanisms such as parents’ meetings, school visitation days, parent-teacher conferences, phone calls, letters, class or school newsletters, etc., may be used. The school will determine the format of these reporting strategies.

Rating codeDescriptionMark %
7Outstanding Achievement80 – 100
6Meritorious Achievement70 – 79
5Substantial Achievement60 – 69
4Adequate Achievement50 – 59
3Moderate Achievement40 – 49
2Elementary Achievement30 – 39
1Not Achieved0 – 29
Codes and descriptions for reporting learner performance

Foundation Phase

The national codes and descriptions provided should be used for recording and reporting learner performance in the Foundation Phase (Grades R – 3). Comments should be used to describe learner performance. In the Foundation Phase, the recording and reporting of learner performance should be against the four subjects offered, that is Home Language, First Additional Language, Mathematics and Life Skills as prescribed in paragraph 6 of the policy document, National policy about the programme and promotion requirements of the National Curriculum Statement Grades R – 12.

Intermediate Phase

Together with either percentages or descriptors or both, the national codes should be used for recording and reporting learner performance in the Intermediate Phase (Grades 4 – 6). Comments should be used to describe learner performance. In the Intermediate Phase (Grades 4 – 6), the recording and reporting of learner performance in the formal assessment tasks should be against the six subjects prescribed in paragraph 12 of the policy document, National policy about the programme and promotion requirements of the National Curriculum Statement Grades R – 12. The requirements for formal recorded assessment for Grades 4 – 6 are set out in Chapter 4 of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements.

Senior Phase

Together with either the descriptors or percentages or both, the national codes should be used for recording and reporting learner performance in Grades 7 – 9. Comments should be used to qualify learner performance. The requirements for formal recorded assessment for Grades 7 – 9 are set out in Chapter 4 of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements. In Grades 7 – 9, the recording and reporting of learner performance in the formal assessment tasks should be against the subjects prescribed in paragraph 19 of the policy document, National policy about the programme and promotion requirements of the National Curriculum Statement Grades R – 12.

FET

The national codes and related percentages to be used for recording and reporting learner performance in Grades 10 – 12 are provided. Comments should be used to describe learner performance. The requirements for formal recorded assessment for Grades 10 – 12 are set out in Chapter 4 of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements. In Grades 10 – 12, the recording and reporting of learner performance in the formal assessment tasks should be against the subjects prescribed in paragraph 27 of the policy document, National policy about the programme and promotion requirements of the National Curriculum Statement Grades R – 12.

The external assessment component for Grade 12 counts 75% of the final assessment. In certain subjects, a practical assessment component may contribute 25% to the external component. The policy on the external National Senior Certificate examinations is stipulated in the policy document, National policy on the conduct, administration and management of the National Senior Certificate: A qualification at Level 4 on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).

Teachers’ Files

All teachers are expected to keep a file containing evidence of their teaching and assessment, viz. Annual teaching plan, Assessment plan, Formal assessment tasks and memoranda, Indication of Textbook(s) and any resources used, Record sheet containing learners’ marks for each formal assessment task and informal notes or any intervention that the teacher plans to assist learners who require additional support (where they exist). It is the teachers’ responsibility to ensure that the information in their assessment files is kept up to date.

A teacher assessment file may be a file, a folder, a box, or any other suitable storage system. The formally recorded assessment tasks should be marked or indicated in the teacher’s file. Stickers, coloured paper, etc. may be used for this purpose. Teachers’ files should be available on request at all times for moderation and accountability purposes.