The outcomes of the Annual National Assessment (ANA) for 2012 have been published and indicate that the numeracy and literacy general performance of South African learners in the lower grades has somewhat improved.
“The Annual National Assessment was a massive undertaking with over seven million learners writing. This is an achievement in itself, showing teachers are getting it right and learners are making progress. Learner performance in the Foundation Phase Grades 1, 2 and 3 is pleasing. There is progress also in the Intermediate Phase Grade 4, 5 and 6,” said Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.
The ANAs are standardised assessment tests that all schools are forced to conduct in exactly the same grade-specific language and mathematics for Grades 1 to 6 and Grade 9.
The newly released outcomes revealed that in Grade 3, the national average performance in literacy stands at 53% in comparison to the 35% in 2011 — a marked improvement of 17% from previous year 2011.
Grade 3 numeracy also exhibited improvement with learners performing at an average of 41% as opposed to 28% in 2011. Once again, a fantastic change for the better of 13%. This will hopefully ensure that learners pursue mathematics and science in later grades.
There are still grave concerns as to the reasons why fewer learners are taking Mathematics and Science. The minister remarked that the rationale behind this is due to the fear of failing.
The national average performance in language for Grade 6 learners was 34% for the Home Language and 36% for the First Additional Language versus 28% in 2011. The First Additional Language was not assessed in 2011, and these results would serve as a benchmark in the years ahead. Motshekga remarked that the First Additional Language was critical considering that the bulk of black learners studied in a language that was not their home language.
In Grade 6 Mathematics, the average performance was 27% compared to 30% in 2011. Provincial performance ranged between 21% and 33%.
The national average performance for Grade 9 learners in language at 43% Home Language and 35% First Additional Language. Provincial performance ranged between 30% and 40%.
A major shock for some of the nation’s top educators is the 13% mathematics pass rate for grade 9 learners. Provincial performance ranges between 9% and 17%. These outcomes indicate to a large extent the key reason,amongst other reasons, that explains why there exists a high failure and dropout rates at Grade 10 and 11.
The national average performance for Grades 1, 2, 4 and 5 literacy in 2012 is as follows:
* Grade 1 – 58% (59% in 2011)
* Grade 2 – 55% (52% in 2011)
* Grade 4 – 43% Home Language (34% in 2011) and 34% First Additional Language
* Grade 5 was 40% Home Language (28% in 2011) and 30% for First Additional Language
The national average performance for Grades 1, 2, 4 and 5 in numeracy in 2012 is as follows:
* Grade 1 – 68% (63% in 2011)
* Grade 2 – 57% (55% in 2011)
* Grade 4 -37% (28% in 2011)
* Grade 5 – 30% (28% in 2011)
The 2012 ANA’s do indicate proof that there are breakthroughs at the lower end of the system however, at the same time, there are significant issues with higher grades which appear to be stagnating.
A superb benefit as a result of the annual testing is the fact that it discloses which schools were in need of urgent assistance. A further priority was making sure that each and every learner had access to a minimum set of textbooks and workbooks required which are mandatory in accordance with the national policy.