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National News Flash 25 of 2015: NAPTOSA Position on the 2015 Annual National Assessments (ANA)

 

The ANA was conceptualised following poor learner performance in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science (TIMMS), as well as the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ) studies. NAPTOSA, at the time, embraced the intention of a “home-grown” diagnostic testing system for selected grades. However, the ANA is no longer a diagnostic systemic evaluation tool, but has evolved into a content-based test with results being used to “label and punish” schools and districts in relation to performance. This labelling has changed the way in which schools and teachers perceive the ANA.

 In 2014 we saw schools “teaching to the ANA” to the detriment of the curriculum. Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) instructed that days/weeks be dedicated to the preparation for the ANA, as well as schools having “pre- ANA tests” in some provinces. This abhorrent practice continues as a result of the pressure to perform at any cost. NAPTOSA denounces such practices and also rejects the proliferation and extension of the ANA to all grades as opposed to the initial focus grades, namely, grades 3, 6 and 9.

NAPTOSA is concerned that sufficient time is not allocated for schools to consolidate and implement the learning needs as identified. 

NAPTOSA has consistently drawn its concerns about the ANA to the attention of both the Minister and the Department of Basic Education, but to no avail. These concerns include issues of changed focus from diagnostic to summative evaluation; lack of consolidation; the undesirability of a high stakes testing regime; and the absence of meaningful engagement. Other pertinent issues taken up with the Minister include the disruption of the academic year, additional educator workload, unfair demands on special schools, and change in focus and purpose. The timing of the ANA is also cause for concern.

NAPTOSA regrets the fact that all our proposals regarding the above have, to date, been ignored.

Accordingly, NAPTOSA sees no purpose in the ANA as it is currently implemented and strongly believes that there is a need for it to be overhauled rather than continuing blindly with a flawed policy that costs millions annually and amounts to nought.

Consequently, NAPTOSA is of the firm opinion that the values and purpose of the ANA have been compromised. NAPTOSA is engaging in consultations with other educator unions, as well as the Minister and the Director General of the Department of Basic Education. Once these have been concluded, NAPTOSA will evaluate its continued participation in the ANAs.