The introduction of Continuous Assessment in schools has created many questions and many are still unanswered. Today The Examiner would like to begin a series which will unravel some misconceptions about this model of education.
FOLLOWING the approval of the New Curriculum Framework, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education came up with a framework for implementation from 2015-2022. This model embraces a combination of Continuous Assessment (CA) and high stakes examinations. Continuous Assessment will form part of the weighted contribution to learner performance outcome at Grade 7, Form 4 and Form 6 public examinations. What is Continuous Assessment? Continuous Assessment simply put is the assessment throughout a course of study rather than exclusively by examination at the end of it. This is not a new phenomenon in the education system in Zimbabwe for it has been in practice in Technical subjects. It is now being extended to all subjects with modifications.
The Curriculum Development Unit of the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education developed syllabuses for all the learning areas from ECD to Secondary level.
For the Infant Level the learning areas are as follows; Visual and Performing Arts, Physical Education, Mass Display, Indigenous Language, Mathematics and Science, Heritage Studies, Information and Communication Technology.
The learning areas for the Junior School are; Languages, Science And Technology, Mathematics, Heritage and Social Studies, Visual and Performing Arts, Physical Education , Sport and Mass Display, Agriculture and Family, Religion and Moral Education.
At secondary level, especially Forms 1 to 4 learners will explore a broad based curriculum in which they acquire the necessary competencies from the different learning areas mentioned above. The learning areas in Forms 5 and 6, will prepare learners for such options such as tertiary and self employment.
The introduction of CA in the new curriculum is crucial to the teaching and learning process because this form of assessment will provide useful information about where learners are in their learning within given learning areas thus giving evidence about how candidates are consuming the new curriculum.
These assessments will also be used to make informed decisions about education in the country based on the performance of the candidates at various levels.
The successful implementation of this model is dependent upon the designing of effective assessment instruments during this exercise. The tasks should provide feedback on what and how learners learn, and allow teachers to assess a broad range of traits, skills and abilities while at the same time making assessment a learning experience which deepens learner engagement.
The tasks therefore should be valid, reliable, objective, explicit and manageable.
Since these tasks are going to be used for both formative and summative assessment purposes it is very important that they are crafted with much thought so that we end up with well-constructed and credible tasks which have positive consequences for learners such as motivation, learning of important concepts that leads to mastery, problem solving ability, and application of what is learned.
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