Outcomes-based assessment in practice : a case study of six educators at a secondary school in KwaZulu-Natal.
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Since it assumed power in 1994, the democratic government in South Africa had to meet the challenge of changing a fragmented, inequitable and culturally oppressive system of education into one that would promote the principles of equity, redress and social empowerment. A mechanism to meet the aims of the new South African education system, Curriculum 2005 and its outcomes-based education approach, was introduced from the beginning of 1998. The new education system was subjected to changes that were designed to address the legacy of apartheid, and to meet the ch allenges presented by twenty first century global imperatives. Curriculum 2005, as a learner-centred educational framework, embraces a continuous assessment process that requires that educators be skilled to employ integrated assessment and teaching strategies to facilitate the holistic development oflearners . The purpose of this study was to investigate the perceptions and practices of grade nine language educators with regard to translating outcomes-based assessment into practice. A qualitative approach, using a case study method , was employed for the investigation and interviewing was the major data collection instrument. The interview data was supplemented by document analysis. The data were coded and analyzed. The main findings suggest that the grade nine language educators have a sound understanding of the outcomes-based system of assessment but the policy language and large class sizes were found to have limited educators' abilities to meaningfully use ongoing classroom assessment for formative purpose with individual learners. Finally, recommendations made concerning assessment practices, could lead to a more effective learner-centred learning environment.