Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
THE Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has said the process of moderating examinations under the continuous assessment learning activities (CALAs) is progressing well across the country after all schools successfully managed to complete project portfolios on time.
Despite earlier resistance and criticism by some, Zimbabwe is forging ahead with the new education model and Government has assured stakeholders of reliability and authenticity of the tools used by candidates.
The country is implementing the CALAs for examination classes for the first time this year in line with the new competence-based curriculum introduced in 2017.
This is a new education assessment model that requires learners to perform, and to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and proficiency.
It presents a situation that calls for learners to apply their learning in context. The new model embraces a combination of continuous assessment and high stakes examinations.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Mrs Tumisang Thabela said the assessment exercise was going on very well.
“As soon as we started working on the continuous assessment element, I am glad to say currently all schools have finished project portfolios to be assessed and the write ups to be assessed for the pre-components they were supposed to do,” she told Chronicle in an interview.
“District and provinces are now finalising their own moderation, which is done in three levels.”
Mrs Thabela said moderation was first done at school level where teachers are checked by their school heads in terms of the quality of tools that they would have assessed.
“Currently, we are finishing moderation at ministry level, which is done by the provinces and what we did, therefore, was to train all our provincial education directors and district schools inspectors to make sure that they are able to moderate those continuous assessment learning activities,” she said.
“We are also checking for reliability of those tools as well as the authenticity of the portfolios because there were general concerns that maybe somebody can decide to write something for the child.
“We interviewed the children who were sampled and authenticated that it indeed it was truly written by that particular child.”
CALAs forms part of the weighted contribution to learner performance outcome at Grade 7, Form 4 and Upper 6 final examinations.
It is the assessment of a pupil’s progress throughout a course of study rather than exclusively by examination at the end of it.
According to the policy framework, the new grading system will see Grade 7 final results determined by 30 percent of continuous assessment and 70 percent on national examinations.
At Form 4, the framework states that learners’ grades will be based at 40 percent on theoretical examination, 30 percent practical examination and 30 percent continuous assessment.
The continuous assessment framework ultimately sets out what learners are expected to know and be able to do as a direct result of their learning in schools and non-formal education, starting from early childhood development (ECD) to secondary level.
The concept emphasises the assessment of knowledge, skills, abilities, values and trends to ascertain the achievement of desired learner exit profiles at any level. At the moment, it only applies to examination classes.
Mrs Thabela said the final level of assessment, which is external is conducted by the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) as they are marking all the other collective examinations.
“Our teachers are very professional and this is not the first time because for practical subjects in the secondary education cycle this has been done for years,” she said.
“In fact, we have never complained as a community about the teachers or engineers we get who actually had their practical subjects assessed at 30 percent practical project and portfolio and 70 percent summative.
“In the case with CALAs, we only increased a model that we have been using in the education system.”
Mrs Thabela also said public examinations, which started last week were continuing smoothly with no glitches.