ASSESSMENT

Testing under CBC to gauge learner's performance ability

Pupils to sit CATs at the end of Grades 4, 5, and 6 to form the final mark at the end of primary school

In Summary
  • Each CAT will carry 20 per cent of the final mark, adding up to 60 per cent of the total.
  • The remaining 40 per cent will be from an exam administered by the Kenya National Examination Council at the end of Grade 6.
Education CS George Magoha.
Education CS George Magoha.
Image: File

The testing of learners under the new curriculum set to replace KCPE exams will this year be tested on its effectiveness to measure a learner's performance ability.

The pioneer class of the Competency-Based Curriculum is currently in Grade 5 and will transit to Grade 6 in April this year, which also marks the end of primary school.

In the curriculum, learners will sit Continuous Assessment Tests at the end of Grades 4, 5, and 6 to form the final mark at the end of primary school.

Each CAT will carry 20 per cent of the final mark, adding up to 60 per cent of the total.

The remaining 40 per cent will be from an exam administered by the Kenya National Examination Council at the end of Grade 6.

The cumulative score of the learner will determine the secondary school he or she will join.

To put it in context, the pioneer class has already sat for one of the assessments done in Grade 4, and will this term sit the Grade 5 assessment.

Upon getting to Grade 6 in April, the students will again sit another assessment before winding up with the final examination.

Sceptics said unscrupulous teachers will manipulate CAT results to show their students have performed well.

However, the current model of testing in the KCPE and KCSE exams has had its fair share of blame.

Critics said the model risks creating a system that rewards the ability to cram in as much information as possible and regurgitate it under exam conditions.

It is not only described as unbalanced, but it is also unfair and ineffective.

George Omondi, lecturer in the Department of Economics at the University of Nairobi, said the majority of university students, though smart enough to get to study degree programmes, struggle with basic academic skills.

"Pupils are being left without basic research and essay-writing skills and ill-equipped for the rigours of further study and working life," Omondi said. 

"They have reached the age of 16 without developing the skills required to tackle the task." he said.

He described the current education system as one that lacks critical analysis, time-management, and research capabilities which are important skills at an advanced academic stage.

"What people miss to understand is that internally assessed coursework does not count in KCPE and KCSEs, but it is worth up to 20 per cent of some subjects in university," he added.

He said the CBC assessment system, if well implemented, is a better system.

"It will give teachers more control over how assessments are conducted and awarded marks for research and planning, as well as the final piece."

Mutheu Kasanga, the Kenya Private Schools Association chief executive, gave a less convincing argument against teacher assessment.

Kasanga said that teacher assessment could play a key role in summative assessment alongside exams. 

Teacher expertise is crucial, she says, and as such, the replacement of exams with assessment will enable teachers to identify weaker areas of different students and work on them.

Knec has in various counts brushed off the possibility of results manipulation as they will moderate the exam scores.

The Knec chief executive officer Mercy Karogo said that each school will be required to upload the test scores to the council for verification. She did not elaborate how the moderation of marks will be done.

Karogo said that the council will be the custodian of the final CAT marks. This means that even if a learner transfers to a different school, Knec will still have their marks.

Opponents of the new examination system also question Knec’s capacity to moderate the examination results.

(edited by Amol Awuor)