Formative assessment in grade 8 mathematics : teachers' perceptions and implementation.
Ngwenya, Thembayena Khosi.
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The constitution of Republic of South Africa (Act 108 of 1996) provides the basis for curriculum transformation and assessment for development in South Africa. The curriculum aims to develop the full potential of each learner as a citizen of a democratic South Africa. Formative assessment is seen as an assessment that can develop the standard of education in South Africa. Muller (2004) asserts that the C2005 policy document and assessment policy for General Education and Training make much of the need to shift from this "authoritarian" approach, to assessment which is formative, standard-based and continuous. Therefore, formative assessment is important in the process of teaching and learning. This study explores teachers' knowledge of formative assessment and how they translate it into practice within a context of Mathematics. It examines the nature of assessment techniques used by educators at the school and explore its relationship with practice. Furthermore, it aims to determine whether the educators are willing to adapt formative assessment practice to meet the changing demands of South African school education as prescribed by the New Curriculum Statement (NCS) in grade 8. Data collection and observations for the study were conducted at a high school in Hammarsdale, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Four teachers were interviewed to determine their perception of formative assessment. Two of the four teachers were selected on basis of the interviews for further data collection. These two were observed when conducting lessons. At least two lessons for each teacher were observed. The nature of the task that the two teachers designed for formative purpose and the feedback they gave to learners were analyzed. The findings from this study suggest that teachers do not reject or resist change in practicing formative assessment, but they have not been properly assisted to replace the old practices with new ones. The teachers therefore, interpret formative assessment according to their own accumulated understanding, which differ from teacher to teacher. Thus, the study recommends that if the change in assessment practice is to be "efficient", it must be accommodated by "appropriate" professional development of teachers.