This study aimed to investigate whether there was evidence of variation in the
quality of School-Based Assessment (SBA), with specific reference to Grade 9
mathematics. Assessment has been a prime focal point for educational reform in
recent years. In the South African context, there are common external
assessments carried out below Grade 12. However, assessments are placed
entirely in the hands of individual teachers. Moderation and monitoring as quality
assurance mechanisms are also conducted internally at varying degrees, which
raises the issues regarding the validity, reliability, and credibility of SBA tasks.
Learner achievement in mathematics had recently been a debated issue in
national and international assessments. Furthermore, South Africa's Grade 9
learners have been performing below the expected levels in mathematics as
compared to the rest of the world.
A qualitative research approach was used within a case study research design.
Purposeful sampling was employed, and five schools with 15 participants were
selected. The data were collected through questionnaires, semi-structured
interviews, observations and field notes, and were triangulated by document
analysis in order to make the findings and conclusions more reliable. This study
revealed that there is a varying degree in the quality of mathematics SBA tasks,
and a lack of knowledge about quality assurance mechanisms. In addition, the
study revealed that the participating teachers lacked knowledge on how to develop
high quality SBA tasks.
This study followed Scheeren's input-process-output model (2004), which was
further adapted to provide an opportunity to identify enhancing or impeding issues
associated with the quality of SBA and learner achievement at Grade 9 level.