The Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) is developing a new grading structure for the 8-4-4 system for Form Four candidates.
Chief executive David Njengere said the proposed structure is in line with recommendations made by the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms (PWPER), which stated the 8-4-4 education structure provided for exams that were primarily summative for certification and placement.
Kenya has remained with one grading system for a long and despite slight changes, PWPER saw the problem endured over time and called for a re-look into the grading system.
The working party said the grading system for KCSE considers seven subjects English, Kiswahili, Mathematics, two Science subjects and two other subjects, which disadvantages some learners whose best performing subject is not considered if not within the cluster.
English and Kiswahili measure the literacy level of a learner, while Mathematics and any Science subject evaluate the numeracy aspects of the learner.
“We have remained with the grading system for long, we have tried to massage it here and there and I am glad PWPER has seen that problem and recommended we look at our grading system,” said the official.
He made the remarks on the sidelines of the ongoing 39th Association for Educational Assessment in Africa (AEAA) conference which was presided over by Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi.
PWPER proposed that the computation of the KCSE examination mean score by KNEC be based on Mathematics, English or Kiswahili and five other best-performed subjects.
He said countries such as Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and other Anglophone countries do not grade as in Kenya, a situation that should be changed.
“We are going to look at PWPER recommendations and come up with a proposal on how grading can be affected because remember although we are doing away with the 8-4-4 system, we still have five groups,” explained the CEO.
Adding: “If every year we are registering over 900,000 candidates, then we are talking about close to 5 million candidates so we must find a way of ensuring we mitigate the effects of grading that have a negative effect on the outcomes. We are looking at that and we will be calling a stakeholders meeting and see how we revise that grading system.”
According to PWPER report, a norm-referenced and criterion-referenced summative evaluation is administered at the end of primary and secondary school cycles, respectively. School-based assessments are administered during the learning process but do not form part of the final score except for some secondary school subjects, which require practical and project work.
Njengere made the remarks even as he stated there is no cause for alarm over national exams due in about two months, urging parents to desist from being lured to buy fake papers.
Njengere also said the country has to find a way of creating systems strong enough to ward off any attempts of malpractice.
At the same time, Njengere assured teachers have been professional and objective as they administer exams, noting that trust is a major value in assessment and Kenyans should recognize that teachers are with the children throughout the year.
He said KNEC has conducted School Based Assessment from 2019 under the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) and data shows teachers’ professionalism.
This came as Mudavadi urged African countries to prioritize education reforms saying they will provide equal opportunities for all learners. He lauded the role examiners and assessors play saying that as professionals, they determine the true abilities of every learner in the education system.
“Governments rely on products you have moulded to make investments, policies, job placements, reviews, and reforms. When one looks at logistics assessors normally manage to get millions of young men and women, a lot of applause and salutations… your logistical assignment is usually bigger because you are reaching out to even more but has not really ended up to petitions, which means you do something right,” said Mudavadi.
Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang challenged the delegates to explore whether education assessment in Africa is giving desired outcomes saying it is critical in defining how countries deal with their own issues.