This is the last article on national assessment. You will recall that we said national assessment is a research designed to test the system as opposed to testing the individual, which is the prerogative of an examination. However, both employ the use of tests of different formats to collect data.
National assessment is a very expensive exercise. It should be implemented after a thorough consideration. In our national assessment part 1 article, we clearly indicated the importance of spelling out the purpose of the study. It must be understood that the substance of the study outcomes is dependent on the quality of all the activities.
For national assessment findings to be effectively implemented, a Coordinating Office should be established to ensure synchronized implementation. Findings should be widely disseminated to inform the stakeholders about the status of the education system and to generate debate about educational matters in an effort to chart the way forward.
Dissemination should therefore be well-budgeted for, as it is an integral part of successful conduct of national assessment. Effective dissemination requires a well thought communication strategy to alert target audiences to the availability of information about the national assessment and encourage them to ﬁnd out more.
The stakeholders of the education system are many and varied. The most important stakeholder is the Minister of Education and his/her senior officers. The study findings should be presented to them first, and the Coordinating Office is next. Face to face national disseminations should be conducted with stakeholders including the general public at the kgotla. Certainly, parents are the important stakeholders in the education system and more often than not, are always considered last, if not forgotten.
The media plays an important part in disseminating national assessment findings. Thoroughly briefing through press conferences and issuing press release about the findings helps them to publish credible information for a wider readership. The civic society also needs to be engaged on the study findings through various means. More importantly, national assessment produces a lot of data, which should be made available to scholars for further enquiry. However, this should be done without compromising confidentiality of the assessment participants.
A variety of summary reports and policy briefs should be produced targeting varying stakeholders, including learners, as a way of furthering dissemination. More often than not, learners are always forgotten when the findings about their performance is disseminated. In the modern day of technology, extensive web sites should be used to disseminate the information. Another effective dissemination strategy is commentary by signiﬁcant ﬁgures on assessment using print, social and broadcast media.
National assessment findings often suffer underuse despite the huge costs incurred in obtaining the information. Under usage is likely to occur when the national assessment is divorced from everyday educational activities. This situation is likely to arise when national assessment activity is done for the first time. Underuse is also likely to occur when stakeholders who are in a position to act on ﬁndings were not involved in the design and implementation of an assessment.
Improper conduct of the study results in questionable findings leading to potential users rejecting the credibility of the findings. They may also be underused if thorough communication was not made to the relevant actors particularly practitioners.
Furthermore, unless the politicians are committed and prepared to accept the findings as they are, results that portray socioeconomic and educational inequalities associated with ethnic, racial, or religious group membership, may be rejected, leading to attempts not to make ﬁndings public and usable.
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