Angie wants teachers tested

BASIC Education Minister Angie Motshekga wants teachers to write the same Annual National Assessments (ANAs) as their pupils. In a written parliamentary reply, Motshekga said maths teachers would be assessed the same way as their pupils every year.

Yesterday, education spokesman Elijah Mhlanga said the matter was still under discussion and a date for the tests had not been set.

Now in their fourth year, the ANAs are standardised national assessments for literacy and numeracy for grades 1 to 6 and 9.

“The main purpose of testing teachers is to identify specific areas where teacher development should focus . . . but it definitely won’t be this year,” Mhlanga said.

University of the Free State rector Professor Jonathan Jansen said it would be “embarrassing on so many levels” if teacher-competency testing was linked to the tests pupils wrote.

“The fact that it is even happening tells us something about the dismal state of education in South Africa,” Jansen said.

“[But] it’s the first time the department recognises that we have a problem at this very basic level with the state of knowledge of maths teachers.” The Southern and East African Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality III report in 2011 revealed that only 38% of Grade 6 maths teachers tested could answer a Grade 6 question correctly.

Professor Elizabeth Henning, head of the University of Johannesburg’s Centre for Education Practice Research, said teachers who were serious about their work would agree to the testing.

The centre tests new primary school education students using a Grade 7 test to determine their primary school learning and provides required intervention to get them up to speed.

“We cannot make the assumption that all teachers are competent in the content that they teach . . . this counts for all teachers – also in higher education.”

An ideal primary school teacher of all grades should score very high on a Grade 7 test, Henning said, while Grade 1 teachers needed to know how the foundation they laid would support later learning.

Grade 9 pupils obtained an average of 10.8% for maths in last year’s ANAs, while grades 3 and 6 scored 55.4% and 37.3%, respectively.

In her written reply, Motshekga said the testing of teachers in the ANAs was in the Action Plan to 2014 Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2025.

However, DA basic education spokesman Annette Lovemore said every teacher should write the ANA test for grades they were teaching, and preferably for a few grades higher as well.

“Every teacher who cannot achieve at least 80% in the relevant test must be directed toward effective development, and re-tested after that intervention,” she said.

“Every teacher who cannot teach mathematics must be removed from [teaching] the subject.”

Teacher unions Naptosa and Sadtu, which are yet to be consulted, raised concerns about the plan.

Naptosa president Basil Manuel said while it made sense to test grade 6 and 9 maths teachers, those in Grade 3 should be expected to know what they were teaching.

“We conduct regular tests and are turning into a testing regime with little follow-through on the results.”

Naptosa was also concerned about the administration and monitoring of the teacher ANAs – when they would be conducted and whether the results would be used to inform professional development.

Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said a skills audit should first be conducted, as it would be demoralising to test teachers without first finding out their training and development needs.

– Poppy Louw

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