Looking for the needle in a haystack

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Looking for the needle in a haystack

External assessment at Grade 9 in South Africa continues to be viewed by high-performing independent schools as an imposition on their teaching programmes and unnecessary in that it adds nothing to their current internal assessment programmes. It is difficult to argue against their position.The IEB is exploring an alternate external assessment model whereby the focus is not on subject-based assessment but rather on a Core Skills Test and International Benchmarking Tests in English and Mathematics. The motivation for such exploring and alternate model and why this model in particular will be discussed together with the results from a pilot project run in 2008.The paper will discuss the diverse needs facing education policy makers in South Africa and the effect of this diversity on attitudes. The strength of the alternate model is that it provides a meaningful assessment option for schools whose needs differ from mainstream education in South Africa. Besides providing independent schools with an international comparison of their standards at the Grade 9 level in 2 key learning areas, it also provides an insight into learner performance in questions that assess skills that may have been developed within a subject area but the questions are asked in a context that in not curriculum-based.Preliminary findings and the way forward in this project will be discussed.

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