KNEC outlines primary heads role in Competency Based Assessment

…..At KEPSHA ADC held on December 1-7, 2019

The Kenya National Examinations Council found it necessary to expound on issues relating to the quality of education among learners in primary schools during the primary headteachers conference.

The examining body’s CEO Dr Mercy Karogo in a speech delivered on her behalf by Mr Patrick Ochich, Director Test Development, the CEO stated that it was an opportune moment to reflect on where we are now, where we should be, and how to get there in the Education of our learners.

In an address that focused on the Understanding of the Competency Based Assessment and the role of the School Administrator in Assessment.

Citing the Nelson Mandela quote, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world”, the CEO told the heads that they are in charge of the key sector (education) that contributes greatly in shaping the quality of lives that citizens lead.

Karogo said that the new Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) is an education programme that is based on learners demonstrating the ability to apply the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values they are expected to acquire as they progress through their education.

Teachers buy school exams feedback reports at the KNEC exhibition stand during the KEPSHA Annual Delegates Conference in Mombasa   

The paradigm shifts in the education curriculum from Content Based to Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) calls for a new mode of assessment.

According to the Basic Education Act 2013 section 84 on Examinations and Assessments, KNEC is mandated to conduct Public examinations as provided for under the Kenya National Examinations Council Act (2012). The Cabinet Secretary is mandated to make regulations prescribing:

  1. The conduct of school based assessments;
  2. Conditions; and
  3. The certification of school based assessments, in which the Competency Based Assessment is anchored.

Consequently, KNEC has developed a draft Competency Based Assessment Framework (CBAF) that gives guidelines on assessment of basic education.

At the same time to achieve Quality Education in our  schools, it is a must to embrace three classroom variables. These are: Instructional planning, Instructional delivery and student assessment. These variables are distinctive yet highly interrelated.

The heads were told that an effective teacher should not view each element separately but rather as a composite picture of what students should know and be able to do, the activities that students will engage in to get there, and how the teacher and students will know how they are doing along the way and when they meet the set targets.

The CBC acts as guide for the learning activities hence a good curriculum is not just about the content therein, which educationists need to reflect on the factors that affect learning; like the learning environment, available resources for the teaching-learning process, students learning styles, sound assessment practices.

The word assessment was defined as a collection of methods or tools that educators use to evaluate, measure, and document the academic readiness, learning progress, skill acquisition, and educational needs of learners.

KNEC sits at the tail end of curriculum delivery such that the Competency Based Assessment (CBA) can be referred to as a process of determining the capability of a learner to apply a set of related knowledge, skills, values and attitudes required to successfully perform tasks as they go through learning experiences.

It is important to note that any Assessment is determined by the learning outcomes (objectives) that are expected to be achieved in the learning process.

A good assessment will be one which will be derived from the learning experiences (classroom activities) that the learner is exposed to in the course of instruction.

Assessment therefore should allow those working in the education system to diagnose, monitor and ensure the quality of the education at all levels of education.

The current mode of assessment that KNEC will be using is formative (continuous) which will provide continuous feedback to all the stakeholders; learners, teachers, head teachers, parents and also quality assurance officers for purposes of improving learning and instruction.

Subsequently, headteachers will ensure that data on the progress of a learner is accumulated over time and will be useful in writing the School Year Report that gives a comprehensive account of each learner on the achievements in each learning area, values acquired in each given year.

Formative Assessment also referred to as Assessment for Learning (AFL) is a range of formal and informal assessment procedures which uses a variety of methods to conduct in-process evaluation of learner understanding, learning needs and academic progress. Teachers use it during the learning process to modify teaching and learning activities to improve learner attainment.

KNEC Council Chairman, Dr. John Onsati paid a visit to the KNEC exhibition tent in Mombasa during the KEPSHA Conference.

KNEC stand at the Formative Assessment is the most powerful type of assessment and can be as informal as observing the learner's work or as formal as a written test (Harmer, 2015).

Formative Assessment also includes Assessment as learning (AAL). It occurs when learners are their own assessors, they monitor their own learning, ask questions and use a range of strategies to decide what they know and can do, and how to use assessment for new learning.

A learner is assisted to develop capacity to be independent, self-directed, to set individual goals, monitor own progress or self-assess, and reflect on his/her learning.

In the development of assessment tools, KNEC is guided by the following principles: Validity; Reliability; Fairness; Flexibility; Accessibility; Practicality; Authenticity; Relevance; Sufficiency and Timely feedback.

KNEC, in collaboration with the TSC, KICD and other stakeholders, is playing its role in capacity building of teachers both in public and private schools on the changes in assessment.

Headteachers Role in Training 

Your role is to ensure that all teachers attend such trainings and to provide the necessary post-training support so that teachers are able to adopt the new approach in their classroom and instructional practices.

Parents Role

For formative assessment to be effective, the parents must be involved in the learners work to a great extent. It will therefore be prudent that you relate more closely with the parents in your school as they actively support their children in tackling the extended activities, give their input on the learner’s portfolios and providing the necessary materials for the conduct of projects.  The parents need to now appreciate the ability of their children and encourage them in their school work.

Director Test Development Patrick Ochich, he made a presentation on behalf of KNEC Ag. CEO, Dr. Mercy Karogo at the KEPSHA ADC conference in Mombasa.


Headteachers Role on feedback

In line with the CBC mission of nurturing every learner’s potential, you will be required to champion change in matters regarding the ranking of learners. Every learner has some capability and the achievements of each should be reported as per the criteria used for assessment and not comparing a learner’s performance with others. Your role in this is crucial in ensuring that the feedback given to the learner is descriptive in nature by elaborating the strengths and areas of improvement rather than just reporting a mere score in percentage.

Core competencies such as critical thinking, problem solving, creativity and imagination will only be achieved when you make provisions for learners to explore their immediate environment through varied learning experiences key among them is the use of digital devices that have been provided by the government.

CBA Cost

Assessment can be effectively conducted through the tablets and this makes it even more interesting for the learners while reducing on costs of printing question papers. A case in point is Ngangarithi Primary School in Nyeri county that used tablets during the assessment of the Grade 3 MLP this year and this is quite commendable. This approach should be emulated while conducting Grade 3 MLP and other classroom assessments.






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