Annual National Assessments (ANAs) now take place all the way through primary school (Grades 1-6) and also at grade 9. In the Western Cape – students also write provincial tests at Grade 3, 6, and 9 (called systemics or LitNum tests). While there is debate about the about these assessments – it is clear that far too many students perform poorly for us to be comfortable with the results.
The Department of Basic Education Released the ANA Report 2013 in December and I am finally getting around to reading it. Predictably, the results make for pretty dismal reading.
I pick out a couple of key points.
What is important is that for the ANAs – schools mark their own papers and have access to both question papers and answer papers – making immediate analysis of performance at school possible.
ANAs are graded in the same way as other school assessments using the seven performance bands.
What is interesting is that while in grade 3 there is a distribution of performance across all performance bands (admittedly with more weakness and less strength than we would like), by grade 9, this distribution has all but disappeared.
92% of tested students got less than 30% in the Grade 9 ANA test. Marginal differences between provinces become irrelevant.
Despite the improvements year on year in earlier grades, students tested in grade 9 continue to do poorly. At this stage schools need to pay a lot more attention to results and try to understand where/why their students are struggling. There are a multitude of contributing factors but rather than point fingers, schools need to attack their own data and identify areas of specific need.
I should be clear that analysis is often hard: collecting the data, getting the data in the right format, struggling with excel to try and extract meaning etc all while you are supposed to be getting on with teaching. Because of this, SAILI put together a guide (in this case using real ANA data from 2013) showing what kind of power this data offers.
Our guide does not get schools out of much work, but it does give pointers as to what to look for as well as case studies attacking real school data to drive home the thinking. It is available for download below.