Specifying expectancies for final summative assessment: lessons from international exam guideline practice

Specifying expectancies for final summative assessment: lessons from international exam guideline practice

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Specifying expectancies for final summative assessment: lessons from international exam guideline practice

In South Africa, numerous formative assessments culminate in a set of examinations (summative assessment) that provide 75% of a learner’s results at Grade 12 level. Given the crucial nature of such summative assessments for further study or employment, it is essential to ensure that decisions that are made about learners’ competencies are based on the best possible information. Every examination is informed by a guideline about how it needs to be constructed, and what content and skills need to be assessed. As part of its mandated responsibilities to ensure the quality and consistency of school-level assessment in South Africa, Umalusi, the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training undertook research to establish how top-performing school systems in the world specify expectancies in examination guidelines. The study aimed at understanding how current practice in South Africa could be enhanced. The selection of countries surveyed in the study included Finland, Singapore, Canada, Kenya and Ghana. Most examination guidelines surveyed provide a high level of specification, detailing the kinds of claims that can be made about learners’ skills, based on their performance in the assessment. The paper provides for specific examples of how expectancies need to be specified to enable better predictions of learner performance. The insights are summarized in a template proposed for a detailed specification of the final assessment

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