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Are our teachers capable? A validation study of School-Based Assessments from selected Primary Schools in the Western, North-Western and Lusaka provinces of Zambia
This paper investigated the ability of primary school teachers to prepare quality items that are representative of the demands of syllabus of a curriculum. This investigation was motivated by: (1) The introduction of a weighting on School Based Assessment (SBA) by the Examinations Council of Zambia (ECZ) in Primary schools beginning 2020, that will contribute 30 percent to the learners’ final scores, in respective subjects of the Primary School Composite Examination and; (2) Stakeholders’ concerns as to whether teachers are capable of preparing quality assessments that are able to measure the expected content and skill levels demanded by the curriculum.
Using expert judgement of 10 trained ECZ item writers, 301 Grade 5, 6 & 7 teacher made Social Studies (from 9 Assessments) assessment items from three (3) conveniently sampled schools in 3 different provinces of Zambia were reviewed and analyzed using: the Zambian Primary School Social Studies Syllabus; Teacher made Teaching and Assessment Specification tables; the Examinations Council of Zambia (2016) Primary School Composite Examination Syllabus and; quantitatively using Lawshe’s (1975) Content Validity Ratio (CVR).
The analysis of content validity revealed that the items in the social studies teacher made assessments were representative, as at least 80 percent of the items across assessments and grade level rated above the minimum acceptable CVR value of 0.62 (for 10 Experts). Further analysis of the items in terms of skill level demonstrated teachers’ capability to match the items of the assessments to the demands of the topics in the syllabus. However, with the picture obtained from the analysis that the social studies syllabus is skewed towards the low level demands of knowledge and comprehension, there is need for teachers to be skillful so as to ensure that higher level demands of the syllabus are well covered when dealing with topics demanding such levels.
Overall, the findings of this study provide evidence of the higher capability of primary school teachers in Zambia, to prepare items that can measure the expected outcomes of a syllabus of the curriculu
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