The 2015 Annual National Assessments (ANAs) have been rescheduled from September to December as a result of a negotiation between the Department of Basic Education and teacher’s union Sadtu. With just over two months left until these exams, Seartec and Maths at Sharp have put together a fact sheet on the ANAs and what they mean for South African learners.
What are the ANAs?
The ANAs are standardised tests that are written by students across the country in Grades 1 – 6 and Grade 9. The test results are used to benchmark the progress of learners in South Africa and evaluate whether the levels of literacy and mathematical literacy achieved are appropriate for the age group. The results also affect decision making with regards to education policy and curriculum development.
Although the tests provide aggregated test outcomes that can be used to understand how South African learners are performing on average, new tests are developed and moderated each year, which means that test scores are not directly comparable year on year. Instead, ANA results are a “dipstick” measurement and should be combined with additional assessments in order to comprehensively review the academic performance of SA youth. However, properly implemented, and revised and reviewed with teacher participation, the ANAs can help to support teachers by measuring the progress of pupils and giving teachers the information they need to shape their teaching process.
What have the ANAs shown in previous years?
The 2013 Grade 9 mathematics average was 14%, an extremely disappointing result that revealed the difficulty SA learners are having with regards to basic mathematical concepts. It is suspected that in many instances, children are not acquiring foundational knowledge in maths and literacy. Thus, they cannot build on this knowledge to tackle more complex concepts.
What can be done to improve the situation?
There is no set curriculum that can be learned to prepare for the ANAs, but there are ways to prepare pupils, not only for the exams but for subsequent years of schooling. Instead of being encouraged only to practise example ANA questions, learners should be given adequate time to engage with concepts and become comfortable with them. This involves assessing the level of understanding of a concept, and giving numerous examples that allow students to implement what they have learned. The understanding of basic mathematical concepts often requires practise and repetition – which is a long-term process.
How can Seartec help?
Calculators are a vital component in a broader strategy to build mathematical literacy. Not only do they help students to become more confident, certain calculators, such as the Sharp EL-W535HT scientific calculator, have been designed specifically as a learning tool for the South African classroom. It enables students to practise graph skills with co-ordinate pairs, familiarises them with statistics and has a drill mode that strengthens mental maths skills by providing a series of random addition, subtraction, multiplication and/or division sums to answer. A number of other Sharp calculators, including more advanced scientific calculators, financial calculators and even more basic calculators for very junior students, are available from Seartec. The Seartec-run Maths at Sharp website is an excellent tool for teachers and students, providing resources such as worksheets that are designed specifically for the South African curriculum.
Feel free to contact us for more information