In order to guide the final standardisation meetings with each of the assessment bodies – the Department of Basic Education, the Department of Higher Education and Training, Independent Examinations Board, South African Comprehensive Assessment Institute and Benchmark Assessment Agency – the Assessment Standards Committee holds pre-standardisation meetings. There it receives, among other things,
- Detailed analyses of the question papers in terms of their compliance with prescribed subject assessment guidelines (SAGs);
- Detailed analyses of the question papers in terms of their cognitive levels;
- Comparative analyses of the current year`s question papers in relation to the question papers of the previous years;
- Input from internal moderators and chief markers
- Input by Umalusi`s evaluators and external moderators, as well as verification of the quality of the marking.
It then deliberates on the preliminary results submitted by the relevant assessment body, and, in the light of all reports received, decides upon a course of action – to accept the raw marks (always the preferred option as it means that the other moderation processes have functioned well), or to consider an adjustment to the marks.
At the standardisation meetings, delegations from the assessment bodies present their understanding of the subject results for Umalusi`s consideration. Unless the assessment body presents new information regarding a factor that has not been considered in the pre-standardisation meeting – one which is felt to impact on the validity of the examination results – the decision taken at pre-standardisation stands.
At the standardisation meeting of the National Senior Certificate, for example, the delegation of the Department of Basic Education is led by the Director General. The delegation from the Department includes executive and senior managers of the Department as well as the Heads of Provincial Departments of Education and their senior managers. A similar delegation from the Department of Higher Education and Training works with Umalusi in the resulting of the National Certificate (Vocational) and the General Education and Training Certificate for Adults (GETC). Each of these teams will have had their own pre-standardisation meetings to prepare for the meeting with Umalusi. The SACAI, Benchmark and IEB delegations will have done the same.
Observers from the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), Universities South Africa(USaF), the South African Council of Educators (SACE) and all the teacher unions are invited to attend. In addition, colleagues from other examination boards or councils elsewhere in Africa are invited to attend as observers.
During the standardisation meetings, Umalusi and the assessment body concerned deal with the results on a subject-by-subject basis. In other words, it is not possible at that meeting to establish what the overall pass rate will be. The final pass rate will emerge only once the results for the individual candidates have been compiled – a job that can only happen after standardisation has been completed and the standardisation decisions effected.
At the standardisation meeting, the assessment body is allowed to make a case for adjusting the marks for a subject or recommends that the raw marks be accepted as final. Umalusi’s Assessment Standards Committee then may interrogate the position proposed by the assessment body, and then makes its decision in the light of all the information available to it.
Once the Assessment Standards Committee is satisfied that candidates have been fairly treated and that the results are a fair reflection of the cohort`s performance on that particular set of examinations, it recommends to Council that it approve the results, and that they may be released by the Minister concerned.