DEVELOPMENT OF A COMPUTERISED SYSTEM TO IMPROVE ASSESSMENT PRACTICES OF SOUTH AFRICAN TEACHERS
Tshwane University of Technology (SOUTH AFRICA)
The development of teacher capacity to use assessment information for improving teaching and learning in their classrooms has been a priority for the education department in South Africa. While a range of initiatives were introduced to address this challenge, teachers still struggle with the effective use of assessment. Key challenges reported include: limited capacity and skills in assessment, huge administrative burden associated with conducting assessments, limited access to support required, lack of clear policy guidelines, lack of relevant tools, manuals and assessment materials, as well as large class sizes, high teaching workloads and limited access to relevant learning and teaching resources.
To a large extent, the introduction of the Assessment Resource Banks (ARBs) addressed some of these challenges. However, teachers still required specific information on learner strengths and weaknesses and guidance to address these weaknesses. Responding to teacher needs, and building on the success of the ARBs, the Department of Education commissioned the development of a computerised assessment system.
This paper describes the process undertaken in the conceptualisation and development of this computerised assessment system. The paper begins with an overview of educational assessment in South Africa, and the challenges facing teachers and policy makers. Next a discussion of Assessment Resource Banks is presented, highlighting its advantages and disadvantages, followed by the process undertaken to develop the computerised classroom assessment system and a description of how the system functions. The paper concludes by listing the challenges in the implementation and scaling up of the system to all South African schools.