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Stellenbosch Policy Brief No. 02/2015

Matriculation results are vital for learners. Young people’s options for university entry, bursaries, career choice and labour market prospects depend on them. Continuous assessment (CASS) provides learners with feedback about how well they have mastered the subject material. It is likely to affect how hard and how well they prepare for the matric exam. Weak and inconsistent assessment that is not properly aligned to the desired learning outcomes sends learners the wrong signals. It affects their learning strategies as well as their matric exam effort and career planning.

This brief is based on a study by Servaas van der Berg and Debra Shepherd that compared learners’ marks according to the classroom based CASS with the marks obtained in the final, externally managed, matric exam, regarded as the ‘correct’ assessment of learner performance. This comparison enabled us to assess the quality of CASS. We used data for various matric subjects for 2005, along with measures of assessment accuracy, to determine the extent to which CASS marks gave learners accurate signals as to their likely matric performance.