Learners under the competency based curriculum (CBC) will sit for five national assessments in their primary school education, in the underway shift to the continuous tests approach intended to do away with only one final paper as is the case with the current KCPE exam.
The learners will then take another eight national assessments in junior and senior high school, replacing the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) that is currently used as a qualifier for university admission.
Under the new dispensation, Grades 3, 4, 5 and 6 learners will every year do assessments on a national scale using instruments and tools developed by the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec). More assessments will be done every year in junior and senior high school. The new assessments expand the role of Knec in assessing learners’ abilities, and place it at the centre of success or failure of the CBC system.
As it introduces the competency based assessment (CBA), Knec will also be phasing out the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examinations. It will be busier and have a bigger workload than it currently has.
Justifying the assessments, a member of the taskforce appointed to advise Education CS George Magoha on the implementation of the curriculum said any shortcomings will be identified and corrected. “We’re more interested in learners while they are still in school and how they learn rather than in declaring them failures at the end of the school cycle,” said a member who requested anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Knec will be critical in the administration, scoring and archiving of scores from the various assessments that learners will undertake under throughout their CBC school life. The taskforce launched its report last week and called on Knec to streamline the CBA that will now be used to appraise learners.
“The taskforce recommends that Knec assumes its leadership role in both policy and strategy for overall assessments,” the report reads.
The Nation understands that the council is in the process of finalising the Competency Based Assessment Framework (CBAF) to provide guidance on assessments. It will also develop related regulations for assessment, and in collaboration with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) train teachers.
“CBA is critical for the success of CBC implementation at all levels. Effective CBA entails a balance between formative and summative assessments to inform both the feedback on learning progress and transition across the various levels of basic and tertiary education and training,” states the report.
At pre-primary level, Knec will be responsible for building the capacities of teachers to develop the assessment tools that they will administer to assess learning progress and readiness for transition to primary school. Currently tests at this level are done purely at the discretion of individual teachers.
At primary school level, assessments will be formative, testing things learned within a certain period other than cumulatively. Knec will get involved at the national level when learners get into Grade 3. At this stage, Knec will administer a national assessment to monitor their learning. The first such assessment was carried out in 2019. There was none last year to the Covid-19 interruption on the school calendar.
The current Grade 3 class will be assessed in May. Although the assessment will not be used for placement in Grade 4, it will inform teachers on the entry behaviour of the learners and therefore structure their teaching accordingly.
“At Grade 3, Knec will develop standardised assessment tools to be administered, scored and feedback given to individual learners by teachers in their respective schools,” the report reads.
After sending the scores to Knec, the examinations body will analyse them and prepare a national report that will guide teachers receiving the transition to Grade 4. TSC will also use it to develop content for training teachers on areas that require improvement.
Formative assessments will continue in Grade 4, 5 and 6. At the end of Grade 6 pupils will undertake a summative test, which will assess things leaned over their primary school life.
However, even as details of the new assessments emerge, Knec has not given any indication when the pioneer Grade 4 class will take their national assessment with only one month left before schools close and they progress to Grade 5 in July. The learners will have covered their Grade 4 syllabus since they opened in October last year alongside Standard 8 learners, as others remained at home due to the Covid-19 forced school closures. Each of the three formative assessments in Grades 4, 5 and 6 will contribute 20 per cent to the final score at the end of the primary cycle but there will be no ranking at all levels. According to a source who sat in the task force, Knec will every year develop instruments to be used in the assessments and moderate the scores that schools send to ensure their validity.
The instruments will include guidelines, templates and scoring rubrics for the different activities the learners will be required to do. In addition to the moderation, Knec officials will be expected to make random visits during the administration of the tests. The taskforce has recommended that Knec develops guidelines and quality controls to ensure credibility of the formative assessments.
“Assessment in Upper Primary will align to a policy governing the balance between formative and summative to assess comprehensively the mastery of multifarious competencies of different learners as well as facilitate placement of learners in Junior Secondary School,” the report reads.
It is at the end of Grade 6 that learners will undertake a national summative assessment that will contribute 40 per cent to the earlier scores. The learners’ performance will be used to place them in junior secondary school (JSS) at Grade 7.
Earlier, there were proposals to completely do away with summative assessment but this raised numerous complications, making the taskforce propose the hybrid model.
“The summative assessment is prompted by the need to allow learners from across the country to access schools that have superior infrastructure and a culture of good performance, thus enhancing equity,” says the report.
At junior and senior secondary school, again the assessment will be both formative and summative at the end of the cycle. The assessment at JSS will facilitate placement in SSS where a learners’ performance will enable them select their preferred pathways and tracks. The taskforce suggests flexibility to change the choices in case a learner feels they do not fit into a particular pathway or track.
The last Knec assessment is the summative assessment at the end of SSS that is meant to facilitate transition into tertiary and university education and training.
To implement CBC effectively, the taskforce recommended that Knec collaborates with TSC to train all teachers on CBA of learners with different abilities and develops robust ICT systems to support CBA. This is because it will be the custodian of learners’ performance from a younger age than before.
Stages of assessment in CBC
- Grade 3 – Formative assessment
- Grade 4 – Formative assessment
- Grade 5 – Formative assessment
- Grade 6 – Formative and Summative assessment: End of primary school
- Grade 7 – Formative assessment
- Grade 8 – Formative assessment
- Grade 9 – Formative and Summative assessment: End of junior secondary school
- Grade 10 – Formative assessment
- Grade 11 – Formative assessment
- Grade 12 – Formative and Summative assessment: End of senior secondary