The marking process of the National Senior Certificate: exploring perceptions of quality
Van Wyk, Patricia Sybil
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Examinations play an important role in the progress and success of learners in schools around the world, as well as in South Africa. The South African public in general and the Department of Basic Education (DBE) in particular place enormous emphasis not only on the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination, but also on the subsequent final results of this examination. Quality is a significant guiding principle of South African education. By implication, every aspect of the NSC examination should be of high quality. Quality during the NSC examination, and particularly during the marking process, is therefore of the utmost importance because this examination not only makes up 75% of a Grade 12 learner’s promotion mark but, being an exit examination, it also serves as a door to the workplace or tertiary education. The NSC examination can therefore be considered as a ‘high-stakes’ examination because it is the yardstick by which the South African education system is measured with regard to quality and effectiveness. However, despite the directives in the Regulations Pertaining to the Conduct, Administration and Management of the National Senior Certificate Examinations (DBE 2014) and the involvement of the national regulatory body (Umalusi) in ensuring the quality of the entire examination process, marking during the NSC examination appears to be clouded in controversy and its credibility casted in doubt. This study explored the perceptions on the quality of the NSC marking in the Northern Cape Province. The aim was achieved by means of a critical policy analysis of particular South African education policies and interviews with various respondents. All this was done and informed by pragmatism as a research paradigm. The findings suggest that respondents perceived the marking quality of the NSC examination in the Northern Cape not to be at an acceptable level due to various factors. Based on the findings, certain recommendations are made to improve the quality of marking in the Northern Cape.