Details on how Grade Six learners are being assessed in their CBC final exams have emerged, revealing a major departure from the multiple-choice tests administered in Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) under the previous 8-4-4 education system.
The tests being rolled out under the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) entail a balance between formative and summative assessments.
This means that the students already sat for the school-based assessments in Grade 4 and 5, and are now sitting the last batch of the tests ahead of the December national examinations under CBC curriculum.
The end of primary education national assessment will be administered by Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) at the end of Grade 6, with a total weight of only 40 per cent.
The examination is now being referred to as Kenya Primary School Education Assessment (KPSEA).
.Grade Four to Six learners are taught English, Kiswahili, Sign Language (for learners who are deaf), Home Science, Agriculture, Science and Technology, Mathematics, Religious Education (CRE/IRE/HRE), Creative Arts, Physical and Health Education and Social Studies.
Grade 4, 5 and 6 school-based assessments assist in informing mastery of competencies and readiness of learners to transition, and provide feedback to stakeholders such as learners, parents, teachers in subsequent grades and curriculum developers.
Primary school teachers, who spoke to The Standard, said each question in the ongoing assessments requires learners to think and apply knowledge based on items learnt in class.
“The good thing is that for practical subjects’ learners are supposed to go out and carry out activities which are scored based on how they perform. This, is unlike previous years, where even practical questions were done just on paper,” said a teacher.
Johnstone Nzioka, Primary School Heads Association (Kepsha) national chairman said the assessments are practical and help children think.
“It is no longer about memorization. It is about the application of knowledge and thinking,” said Nzioka.
In some questions on the ongoing assessments, candidates are required to identify objects drawn in the question papers and name the various parts by writing down the answers.
This is a departure from past practice where candidates would only shade boxes of multiple choice while answering questions.
Candidates under the CBC curriculum are also supposed to read questions, understand and give reasoned answers to the question papers.
Under KCPE, this was only notable during Composition writing and Insha where candidates were given a chance to write down their reasoned thinking to capture their creativity.
Under mathematics questions, learners are tested on the various components of the subject including numbers, measurements, geometry, data handling and algebra.
The practical efforts that learners used to arrive at answers during KCPE examinations are evident but are now demonstrated as candidates tackle the questions to resolve various questions.
For instance, candidates will be required to demonstrate their knowledge of the use of a compass, protractor, ruler and divider to show how they arrive at answers.
‘‘Using a protractor, measure the size of the angle marked X,’’ reads one of the questions.
“Your teacher has provided you with a cut-out. Using a ruler, measure the base and height of the cut out in centimetres,’’ reads another question.
Similar practical questions are in agriculture, science and technology, art and craft, and religious education.
Under religious education, for instance, candidates are required to recall a video they watched in class and draw lessons that they then use to write answers.
“You watched a video where…..write one lesson you learnt from the miracle,’’ reads another question.
In the practical part, Home Science, students were taken through cookery where they pegged on Irish potatoes, banana and beef stew.
In music, the candidates demonstrated their talents in performing folk sacred music while in agriculture, they demonstrated the domestication of rabbits and chickens with science projects involving the modelling of the human heart.
Education Cabinet Secretary, Prof George Magoha confirmed the CBC examinations for the Grade Six learners are going on smoothly.
‘‘Our children who are doing CBC Grade six have done most of their practicals and are remaining with some assessment which is being regimented by Knec,’’ Magoha said.
‘‘Everything is going on well. Written test which will be the final one for CBC grade six is scheduled for November and we, as the government, have set our eyes on the ball.’’
Sheila Aliviza, head teacher in Nairobi, says learners use all skills in the creative process which enriches their understanding and can make their life easier.
‘‘Creativity is the highest order of thinking, it should be at the forefront of all learning environments and an end goal. When students create what they imagine, they’re in the driver’s seat,’’ Aliviza stated.
Aliviza says candidates did their projects before sitting for written papers.
‘‘We finished the projects first so that the knowledge learners can apply the knowledge to the theory. This enables them to explore more,’’ Aliviza said.
She further said, with the new CBC system, learners have the urge to be in school more than before.
‘‘Their mentality has shifted from books focused to life reality and this has pushed the majority to like school life more than at home,’’ she said.
Over 1.25 million learners are set to sit for the exam that will see them transition to Junior Secondary School.
The national test will be the first under the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC).
The KPSEA exams will be marked electronically since it is multiple choice-based except for Composition and Insha.
Overall, all candidates will be required to score a maximum of 40 per cent which will be added to the 60 per cent they will have attained during the entire primary learning period under the CBC curriculum.