Media Release
Minister of Education Donald Grant
Western Cape

17 January, 2012

Upcoming release of the Grade 3, 6, 9 literacy and numeracy testing results

Statement by Minister Donald Grant, Minister of Education, Western Cape

The Western Cape government firmly believes in the importance of systemic testing in the management of education and the improvement of learner performance.

That is why this province leads the rest of the country in the use of extensive independent testing for Grade 3, 6 and 9 learners.

Standardised testing enables the WCED to identify problem areas and to undertake focused remedial action in the fields of literacy and numeracy performance.

Because of our belief in the importance of standardized testing the WCED, in 2011, approached the Centre for Evaluation and Assessment (CEA) to update and evaluate the existing testing instruments to ensure that they remain relevant, credible and in line with the curriculum and the changing school system in which our schools operate.

The Centre for Evaluation and Assessment (CEA) is an autonomous research unit within the Faculty of Education at the University of Pretoria and has extensive expertise and experience in system level evaluation and assessment, school level evaluation, test construction and evaluation.

Members of staff from the CEA have been directly involved in the Third International Maths and Science Studies (TIMSS), the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (2006 and 2011) and have contributed in various ways to systemic evaluations around South Africa.

After analyzing and evaluating the Grade 3 and 6 tests, the CEA identified various areas that needed to be expanded or improved upon in order to ensure that the tests instruments are in line with international standards, particularly in the Grade 3 literacy and Grade 6 language tests.

These changes will have an effect on how we interpret the results which are expected to be released this Friday.

For instance, in the Grade 3 Literacy and Grade 3 Language tests, the CEA felt it was necessary to expand the tests, as well as increase their levels of difficulty so that they are in line with international experience and best practice.

Because of the changes made, it is no longer possible to make comparisons between past Literacy and Language results and the most recent results.

Therefore, in 2011 the Grade 3 literacy and Grade 6 language results should be seen by themselves, and not in contrast to the 2010 results. The 2011 results will now, going forward, set the benchmark for future comparisons. Schools, however, can still make comparisons regarding their own performance compared to other schools by looking at the district and provincial performance ratio.

While there were slight changes made to the Grade 3 numeracy and Grade 6 maths test instruments the CEA indicated that valued comparisons can be made when assessing improvements within the system, although the tests were set at a slightly higher level.

In terms of the Grade 9 tests, a pilot for Grade 9 was conducted in 2010, with the first tests being written in 2011. Therefore the results of the Grade 9 language and maths tests of 2011 will also set new benchmarks for future comparisons when assessing the results.

In 2011 over 240 000 Grade 3, 6 and 9 learners took part in the Literacy and Numeracy tests and we look forward to releasing the results at the end of the week.

For enquiries, contact Bronagh Casey:  072 724 1422 or

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2012 Western Cape Education Department